Meet the McManus family of Ontario. Greg and Lisa and their five children—Moira (18), Wyatt (16), Declan (15), Isaac (11), and Alison (7)—have learned that being a family goes so much deeper than biological ties.

In 2005, they were called to the journey of adoption, which took them through two and a half years of ups and downs. The first challenge they faced was making the decision to adopt internationally. How would they be able to honour the child’s birth heritage? How would growing up in another country impact this child? What would it be like to have a bi-racial family?

The first step was to select an adoption agency. They then had to set up a contract with an adoption practitioner (a social worker with a special licence to do adoptions); undergo a home study, completed by the practitioner; submit their homestudy to their province; and finally, after provincial approval, submit their paperwork to China and wait, wait, wait!

Finally, on June 18, 2007, their family was made complete when they brought baby Alison home from the Sichuan Province, China. In Greg and Lisa’s words, “It was joyous! We can’t imagine life without Alison. Every child is a great blessing, no matter how they join your family!” Together the McManus’s enjoy celebrating Chinese New Year and other Chinese festivals, making homemade Chinese food, and learning about Mandarin and other aspects of Chinese culture.

They hope to travel in China with Alison someday.

The fact that Greg was adopted played a role in the McManus’s decision to make Alison a part of their family. “We feel that Greg’s adoption experience will be helpful to Alison if she ever has questions about her adoption and birth parents,” said Greg and Lisa. “Of course Alison understands that she is adopted, and she is quite comfortable with it. However, as adopted children mature, they sometimes go through various stages in their understanding and acceptance of their adoption. Every child will have his or her own unique journey in this regard. We will support Alison through her journey.”

Homeschooling played a huge role in helping them all to bond as a family. Everyone was home and able to be together, which helped them to get to know Alison; and it also gave Alison the love and security that she needed, especially during that first year. Now that Alison is older, the whole family loves to play pool together. Unfortunately for the other family members, this game is Alison’s specialty!

When asked what advice they would give to others who were interested in adopting, Greg and Lisa said, “Be prepared; talk to other people who have gone or are going through adopting, and read books about adoption. There are lots of great books on the subject (such as Raising Adopted Children by Lois Ruskai Melina; 2002, Quill). Do it! So many children need loving families—it’s worth all the trials.”