'Instant love': Months of preparation culminate in adoption for Fargo family
FARGO - When someone asks 19-month-old Ruby Mei Porter to dance, she wiggles her little body and reaches for the cell phone because she knows that’s where her music originates.
She eagerly goes to her sister, Mary Beth, for a push in the swing. She charms her brothers, Mickey and Jeffrey, into playing tea party with her. She laughs when her dad lets her splash her feet in water. And she reaches for Missy Porter and calls her Mama.
Ruby has only been living with her family for three months, but it seems like she has always been a Porter. And for the Fargo family, who has loved her since before they met her, in many ways, she has.
Last August, the Porters held a rummage sale to raise money to help them adopt a girl with special needs from China.
They spent months filling out paperwork and biographical information, participating in interviews and waiting. They found out New Year’s Day, which is also Ruby’s birthday, that they had been matched with a child.
“When we opened the file, we just knew,” John Porter said.
“When her picture came up, we felt, ‘That’s our daughter,’ ” Missy Porter said.
In late April, the Porters and their three older kids flew to China to get her. It was important to the Porters that their older kids see and experience their sister’s birth country, Missy said.
“Taking the three big kids to China with us was a decision that we will always be thankful we made,” Missy said. “The life experiences they gained are invaluable, as well as the memories they will always have of meeting their baby sister for the first time alongside of us. This was always truly a special process for all five of us this past year. It would have broken our hearts for them to miss those first few weeks with Ruby.”
While the moment Missy and the kids met Ruby was a bit chaotic – John had stepped out of the room, and Ruby arrived earlier than expected – Missy said it felt like she knew her daughter the moment she saw her.
“We both felt that it was no different than when we met our other children,” Missy said. “We both felt instant love.”
Ruby spent the first months of her life in an orphanage, so attachment was very important, Missy said.
“Our biggest fear was that she would attach to one of us and not the other,” she said.
To circumvent that, they both spent as much time with her as possible and took turns feeding and holding her and changing her diapers. They also had to be diligent about not letting anyone else hold her. Ruby’s siblings were allowed to play with her but couldn’t hold her at first.
Now, she seems to have bonded with all of her family members.
“It brings John and I so much joy to see all four of our kids together now,” Missy said. “They love her (Ruby) with all of their hearts, and it really shows. They enjoy playing with her, teaching her new things, and they are very protective of her heart. We know that they will all grow up together with a very special bond.”
Ruby was tiny when the Porters got her, Missy said, and though she was 16 months old, she didn’t have a lot of core strength and could barely sit up on her own. She now nearly runs, pushing a little cart, and takes slightly wobbly steps on her own.
Missy said they knew Ruby would be developmentally delayed, but she’s catching up quickly.
“She’s meeting milestones so fast,” the proud mom said. “Now, she’s so strong. Everything is strength and energy.”
“She’s just a very smart little girl,” John said. “Watching her development in three months is just exceptional.”
At first, Ruby didn’t know what to do with toys, but she’s quickly learning and her siblings seem eager to help, Missy said.
The family is very thankful for the orphanage that cared for her, and they recognize the caregivers there do the best they can.
To help ease her transition, the Porters tried learning to speak some Mandarin. The kids picked it up the best, Missy said.
When they arrived home, the family played some Chinese music for Ruby, and Missy said the toddler would shaking her arms and legs.
Missy learned a “Hello” song in Chinese, which is still the one she said she sings when Ruby is upset.
The hardest part, Missy said, was waiting the four months to get Ruby once they had her picture. Still, she said the adoption process didn’t take as long as they thought it might. Once their adoption was approved, it took less than three months to be matched with a child.
“She is so special to us,” Missy said. “We couldn’t even imagine our lives without her now. Choosing to adopt has without a doubt been one of the best decisions our family has ever made.”