Ellen, 33, adopted three children at the same time: ‘They wanted to go back to Hungary’

That afternoon I left our useful house for what it was and went shopping for clothes for the girls. For years, I’d avert my eyes when I strolled through the girls’ section, but now I’ve bought some pink stuff that I’m intentionally displaying in our DIY home: I had three daughters. However, I also felt a lot of “miscarriage”: I was very afraid that I would lose these girls too and not be adopted.

There were four weeks between the phone call and the day we were supposed to meet the sisters. At that time, the entire house had to be finished. I emailed the adoption worker a few questions, including what colors they like for the bedroom and what toys they like to play with. Everything to make them feel as comfortable as possible. We worked day and night with our family and friends, bought liters of pink wall paint, and finished the three extra kids’ rooms.

A few weeks later, we finally made it to Hungary by car. I knew in advance how exciting it must be for the girls to meet us. I wanted to give them an icebreaker. We’ve heard from other adoptive parents who gave different gifts that they caused mutual jealousy, and they felt that their new parents liked the other child better. We didn’t want that. We decided to give them a dummy, the kind that drinks water from a bottle and pees on the potty when you hit the tummy. With the dolls ready, we entered the Child Protection Council of Hungary room for the first meeting.

It was so special to finally see them. It was beautiful, and much smaller than I thought. I wanted to hug them completely flat, but I held back. It was, of course, very interesting to them: three of these strange, tall Dutchmen in the neighborhood. Olivia, the eldest, didn’t dare shake our hand, but Noah did. Then she also came to us. She saw through him that we can be trusted. Fortunately, the dolls were an instant hit. They also provide interaction: when the dolls urinate, the potty filled with urine must be emptied. The toilet was all the way up on the other side of the building, so we kept walking with the kids through the long corridors. There the girls dared to hold our hands for the first time, and we were allowed to lift them up to fill the bottle under the tap. I walked down that aisle with tears in my eyes: I am their mother.

After six weeks of getting used to Hungary, the sisters went with them to Holland. In our garden there was a sign that read, “Welcome home, dear girls,” in Hungarian and Dutch. Sadie loved our cats instantly. With a loud cry, I ran after them. Our introverted cat, Jack, spent the first few months hiding in the attic during the day. But Charlie, the outgoing cat, loved all the attention. He was wheeled around the living room like a princess in a costume. Noah immediately took care of his sisters and showed them around our house. And from the very beginning we made combinations: Sander went grocery shopping with Kayla and Sadie, then Olivia and Noah and we played a game. Everything so that the four of them are also close.

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Partially on the advice of adoption experts, we lived in our family bubble for the first year. We only let a small group of five family members—grandfather, grandmother, aunts, and uncle—through that time, and Sander and I met up for the evening. Adoption is very traumatic for children, and it was important to us that they go through the process of grieving and connecting with us. In the first year no one equipped either. And we have arranged exemption from compulsory education, to give them peace and space to get used to it at home, to learn the language and to handle everything. Of course everyone was very curious about our daughters. So when they lived here for six months, we threw a little arrival party to introduce them to friends and the rest of the family. The girls had already got used to us by that time, and were comfortable in their own skin. We gave everyone strict instructions in advance: do not touch, comfort, feed and pick up girls, no matter how attractive they are. We wanted to make them feel safe.

Of course it was very intense for the sisters to leave behind everything they knew, their country, their (foster) family, Hungarian food, and their friends. All three have gone through a process of deep grief. At first they really wanted to go back. Olivia understood from the moment she said goodbye to Hungary: this is forever. She cried out in anguish and scolded us. We even locked the doors during the day because we were afraid she would run away. After that she told us that she would never run away, because then she would have to leave her sisters behind. But man, this kid has gone heartbreakingly deep. As intense as she was, we’re glad she went through the grieving process. She is now very happy to be with us and to be with us forever, and that period has deepened our relationship even more.

Our middle daughter, Kayla, loved the attention. She lived in a foster family with ten children, and came out much better in a family of four. At first you didn’t really have a child for her, until one day she asked when she was going back to Hungary. When I finally realized this was forever, the grieving process began. After a while I asked, “Mom, do you want mine Anya to be?’ Anya is Hungarian for my mother. That was a very special moment. “Of course, my dear,” I said, “I am yours forever.” We cried tears of joy together.

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Sadie has just had horrible separation anxiety again. She didn’t understand the idea of ​​goodbye because she was so young at two years old, and by her experience she was snatched from the safety of her environment from one moment to the next. When she went to the bathroom or went upstairs, she was in a blind panic: what if mom never came back?

We are very open about their Hungarian ancestry, country, family history and past. Their roots are part of their identity, and being open to them also guarantees them a place in their lives. We often look at pictures together and talk almost daily about their lives in Hungary. They no longer speak the language. At the end of the six weeks in Hungary, they already understood what we meant when we talked about the toilet or food. They can also make themselves understood in small sentences. It went so fast that before Christmas, when they had lived in the Netherlands for less than two months, they could no longer understand a word of Hungarian and we could no longer communicate through the translation app’s speakerphone. Even the three of them no longer speak Hungarian. The loss of language, especially for Olivia, was something to swallow.

The six of us have been in the Netherlands for a year now, and we are slowly expanding our world. And though we don’t share blood ties, we recognize a lot of ourselves in kids: Olivia, like Sander, is an introvert. With her you can have very deep and gentle conversations. Kayla is very outgoing and fiery and energetic like me. Sadie and Noah are in between. Surely there will be difficult moments ahead. You know that when you adopt. However, there is nothing to be afraid of. Together we can handle it.

You can follow Eline’s adoption story at Instagram And the Tik Tok.

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