PITTSBURG — Near or far, these mothers will always be connected.
A little over 15 years ago John Thompson and his wife Debbie began their search to adopt a little girl.
“The story of how we brought Anna home is a neat story,” John said. “My wife is the one who pulled the wagon.”
The family was considering adoption for quite a while but the decision was not made until after the passing of Debbie’s mother, Joyace Gordon.
Gordon fought ovarian cancer for 15 months. John said although in-laws generally are not the best of friends she was the best mother-in-law in the whole world.
“Her passing left a huge hole in our world,” John said. “My wife was devastated.”
A friend of John’s told of a couple who just adopted a child and the thought of adoption was stirred up again.
He called his wife for lunch and told her he wanted to tell her something — she too had something to tell him, she too wanted to share about an adoption.
When they went to lunch, they saw a couple with a baby they just adopted from China.
The universe was telling them this adoption was going to happen.
“Adoption was a part of everything we lived,” John said.
They began their search — Debbie pulling the wagon — went through stacks of paperwork and traveled when needed. Her father, Ken Gordon, helped along the way.
They knew they wanted a little girl because the family already had three boys — Jake, Josh and Caleb, the youngest was three at the time.
John said their first choice was a baby from China because 40,000 babies needed to be adopted in China and they wanted to provide one of those children a home. Their second choice was Russia but they ran into an issue with both choices because parents need to be present during the adoption.
They then considered adopting from Guatemala.
John said Debbie worked tirelessly going through the international adoption which he described as an absolutely immense process with the notarization of documents and other details.
“She completely took charge,” John said.
They received a referral for Anna, who was just a few days old.
When Anna was six months old John stayed home with the boys while Debbie flew down with her father to meet their daughter.
They named her Anna Joyace in memory of Debbie’s mother.
“We wouldn’t have Anna if she didn’t pass,” John said. "She was a huge part of the journey.
“We can’t imagine our family without Anna.”
The adoption agency encouraged the Thompsons to not hide the fact that she was adopted — to embrace where she came from the family has a "Guatemala Day."
Thompson said prior to their adoption, May was a hard month for Debbie as her mother passed away that month — it is now a time of celebration as Anna was born on May 13.
Thomas said Debbie has been involved in all of her daughter’s activities — supporting her all of the way.
A year ago the family went to a private investigator to begin searching for Anna’s birth mother. She was found, and her name is Blanca Amador Aldana — Anna calls her Momma Blanca.
The investigator showed her pictures of her long-lost daughter and gave her the opportunity to FaceTime with Anna and the family.
Right at the family’s kitchen table Anna spoke with her birth mother for the first time.
“There were a lot of tears,” John said. “There was immense joy.”
Anna is now Facebook friends with her birth mother and speaks to her using a translator.
Thomas said Anna has a sister who was also adopted, reportedly in the United States. He said they are looking for the next piece of the puzzle.