This is the heartwarming story of the Pimentel family’s journey. From overcoming infertility to navigating the adoption process, they share their insights, advice, and unforgettable moments that have shaped their family into what it is today. 

Can you describe your family?

Gus and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this summer. If you had told us 20 years ago that we would have three kids, we would’ve called you crazy, but we love the life we have created and are so blessed by the children who chose us to be their parents.

Our oldest son was conceived after five years of infertility. During that journey, we had already decided to start pursuing the adoption avenue, and we both knew that we wanted to adopt a waiting child. Our child was conceived during our final treatment, which delayed our adoption plans a little bit. When our son was three years old, we started our adventure to find our second son.

Our second son had been in and out of foster care from birth, and when we were matched/placed, he was three-and-a-half years old. His adoption was finalized the following year. Our girl is our little unplanned surprise. She is our second son’s biological sister, and she had been in care since birth. We were contacted when she was 18 months old and asked if we would be interested in her joining our family, possibly temporarily. This was a huge decision as her custody status was not guaranteed, and there was a chance, she would one day be reunited with her birth parents. After discussing with both boys, we all felt that the time we had with her, however little or great, was worth the emotional risk. She is aboriginal, so her placement looked very different from her brother’s. We were so grateful to have the blessing and support of her band. She joined our family in September 2021, and in February 2023, we were granted permanent guardianship.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience with the adoption process overall?

We were so lucky to have had a great social worker from start to finish with our second son. She was wonderful and always supportive. It was a long four-year journey, but I truly believe the matching process is so important. Don’t be discouraged. It isn’t always four years; everyone’s process looks a bit different and has different circumstances.

What’s your best bit of advice for families considering adopting?

Do the research, understand the commitment you are making, and go in prepared for many stops/goes. Be ready to be tested and challenged in all your life skills, and know that these children are worth every second of that journey. Be honest with yourself about your capabilities, and the right match will fall into place. When you are provided matches, ask all the questions. Some profiles are very in-depth, while others are not. Ask for more information, speak to the foster families if you can, and do your research.

Can you tell us about one high point and one challenging point in your adoption experience?

Challenging point: We definitely struggled after the adoption honeymoon was over at about six to eight months post-placement. Our son was mourning the loss of his foster and birth family and finding his footing within his new family. It was an extremely hard and confusing time and so much for a 4-year-old to process. We were all emotionally exhausted and struggling. Everything we thought we knew about parenting was completely out the window. We needed help. I found a child psychologist who worked solely with parents and specialized in children in care. She gave us the tools, and we did the work we needed to provide our son with the support he needed so we could all move forward. I think some people are worried that asking for help is a sign of weakness or that they have somehow failed. To us, it’s just one more sign of your devotion and commitment to loving these kids.

High point: We have had so many rewarding moments with our kids, celebrations of monumental breakthroughs, and honestly, just being witness to watching how far they have come and how they are thriving makes every challenging moment worth it. I think the highest point was the reunion of our son with his birth mother. His adoption was closed, and it was a heavyweight that he bore and mourned every day. When his sister joined our family, her custody included openness, which opened his access. It was so amazing to witness both our son and his birth mother reunite after five years apart; so much healing that was needed for both. The openness hasn’t been perfect, it can be tough to navigate at times, but it has brought our son so much peace, and our daughter will grow up not experiencing those same losses. As a family, we work to maintain those important relationships the best we can.

How has the Belonging Network made a difference to your family?

The Facebook group was a lifesaver for me during our waiting period and post-adoption of our son. I loved being surrounded by families going through similar experiences, sharing roadblocks, victories, struggles, advice, etc. When you are truly “in it,” it can be hard to talk with friends and family who don’t understand the processes. Having a community available to ask questions, vent, and ultimately celebrate with was a great tool. I also use the website tools often to help me understand all the legal terms thrown at you along the way, as well as for book recommendations, etc.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Having experienced both a closed and open adoption, it is important to maintain some form of openness if your situation allows. Every family situation is so different, but if you can foster any form of openness for your children, and it’s safe and beneficial, make it work. We wish we had known then what we know now when we finalized our son’s adoption.