How a family lives together varies by country and culture, but the standard family with husband, wife and children is no longer the norm. Living with multiple partners, adult children, grandchildren, adopted or foster children, eight cats or three dogs: in this series, people talk about their families. This week: Miranda Tollenaar (49), who single-handedly adopted daughter Mica (5) from Haiti.By Hannah Koenig
Miranda Tollenaar had a traditional image in mind: married to a nice man, four children. Her great wish was a large family with both biological and adopted children. The educational worker from Arnhem did not meet the love of her life and therefore decided to fulfill her desire to have children on her own. Recently, her dream came true: She became the mother of five-year-old Mica from Haiti.
Waited eleven years for an adopted baby
Tollenaar took the time to discover who she was, traveled extensively and worked for charities. She was open to a man, but the right partner didn’t come along. The relationship broke up, but her desire to have children remained. “I deliberately chose not to let the children pass. I decided to go for adoption from abroad on my own. That moment was eleven years ago. How did I keep it all the time? I kept thinking: it will take maximum two or three years, and then I’ll be a mother.”
Eleven years of waiting is a long time, yet she remained remarkably positive: “I have such a nature, but this attitude also has to do with my faith and how I look at life. Because a miracle is always a possibility in my eyes, go out of the good. When the news came out that intercountry adoptions were no longer going on, I thought if it’s not for me, I’m going to foster care. I’ve never lost hope of taking care of a child. “
Mica is learning about a year’s worth of language per month, so she will be speaking Dutch by the end of this year.
Prevention of trafficking in children
Adopting a child is not easy. As a parent-to-be, you are thoroughly screened, and it is an intense process. “You can think: anyone can have a child just like that, why not me? But when you think that all these complicated and long procedures exist to prevent child trafficking, you can only be happy about it.”
The day the adoption agency called that she had a daughter, she became a mother. “That phone call changed my life forever. I walked into the supermarket and thought: I am the mother of a girl! It was an unreal but wonderful moment that I had lived for years.”
Als je een kind wil adopteren, moet je toegelaten worden tot de adoptieprocedure. De Stichting Adoptievoorziening beslist hierover. Lees op Ouders van Nu wat die criteria zijn.
Maternity week and culture shock
A year passes between the phone call and her daughter’s arrival in the Netherlands. “An earthquake, riots, corona: it was an eventful time. I was allowed to make video calls with Mica to get to know her and saw a beautiful girl on the screen that I immediately closed in my heart. I sent her gifts and looked in my best clothes. online for her Christmas show like a mother does for her daughter.”
Mica has been living with Tollenaar in Arnhem for a few months now. “I compare the first weeks to a maternity period. It was beautiful and intense. Mica was in a culture shock, but my life also changed completely. I felt that we should take it easy, it was too much too soon. Everything was new for Mica “She didn’t know what an airplane was and had never been to a supermarket. I made sure she didn’t have too much to eat in one day. If I didn’t, she would cry at the end of the day. Heartbreaking.”
Alone is pleasant, together is richer
The most frequently asked question Tollenaar gets is how she communicates with her daughter. “Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of language to communicate. I work in a nursery with babies and I know exactly what a baby needs. There are no words for it. In recent months I have learned to listen to Mica. She learns about a month’s language a year, so she will speak Dutch before the end of this year.”
She finds it special how the arrival of her child opens hearts. Everyone is interested in her street and at work, and they sympathize with her family. “Mica could have been my biological daughter in character, we are very similar. She is a bit more lively and changes her emotions quickly, but that makes it easier to understand each other.”
Parenthood is more intense than she imagined. “You have to be there for the other person more than for yourself. Alone is more pleasant, but together with my child I find my life much richer.”
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