The Moving Finish Line: A Toledo family's adoption story
Updated: Dec 23, 2017
The Meyers faced a long and volatile adoption journey, but in the end, a perfect little girl from China was placed in their Toledo family.
Photo copyright of Heather Ballmer Meyer
For Larry and Heather Meyer, becoming parents was a long and arduous journey. Heather Meyer, mother to Ella (age 8) says,
“After several years of marriage, Larry and I decided we were on board with parenthood. Then when it wasn’t happening naturally, we knew that we had a decision to make. Did we go the medical [route] or were we being called to be parents in another way?”
Heather and Larry decided to adopt for a plethora of reasons, but their friend, Denise Soto, and her adopted daughter helped seal the deal: “We met them and their daughter, Grace, and we walked away knowing that the journey to adopt had been decided for us.”
After thorough research and much discussion, the Meyers chose to adopt from China, because, Heather explains, “of the predictability. We knew that thousands of people had gone before us...it was a well-oiled machine.” While the process was expensive, the lengthy wait was the most grueling part for the couple. Originally, they were told the adoption process would take 10 months; 4 and a half years later, they finally met their daughter, Ella. Heather quips, "The finish line just kept moving."
Within hours of meeting their daughter, the Meyers had their first conversation about adoption with Ella, who was only 10 months old at the time.
Heather summarizes, “In those 4 and half years of waiting, [Larry and I] attended a lot of training. One of the things that we learned was talking to your child often [about adoption] would make you more comfortable, as parents. We knew if we screwed up, at 10 months old, it wasn’t going to compute. So by the time she was old enough to understand, we had all the bumps worked out.”
The adoption conversation still continues today, and Ella refers to her birth mother as her “China mama or tummy mama.” Adoption becomes tangible for Ella when she witnesses her parents’ friends who are pregnant or breastfeeding; Ella realizes that neither of those things happened for her and her mom, Heather.
While adoption has changed the Meyers in innumerable ways, Heather reflects that for Ella, adoption has created “layers.” She elaborates,
“Children are complicated little beings to begin with, but adoptees come to us, no matter how old or how young, with other layers. The biggest one is that all adoptees have loss. It’s there from the beginning, and it will be with them until the day they die. It sounds sad, but it is so real.”
Meyer Quick Bio
Attorney at Manahan, Pietrykowski, DeLaney & Wasielewski (Larry) and Office Manager for Inside Out (Heather)
“Photography...whether it’s photographing life or assisting one of my good friends, Nicolelee” (Heather). Music: drummer in Old State Line and listener of local music (Larry).
Old Orchard Mom’s Group, Love Without Boundaries, Families with Children from China (FCC), Augsburg Lutheran Church (Heather) and Arts Commission, Sylvania Avenue Neighbors, Feed Your Neighbor, licensing for Toledo Free Press fundraising CDs, Toledo Bar Association Intellectual Property Committee (Larry)
Thomas and Mavis, sibling, 1yo cats that were 2 of the 10 they fostered last year.
Hopes for Ella
“Kindness, love, faith, and a wicked sense of humor.”
All photos copyright of Heather Meyer Ballmer.