The Uhlenkamp Family

November is recognized as Adoption Awareness Month. Ginny Uhlenkamp, Director of The Birth Place, shares her family story. Ginny has worked at St. Anthony, at the bedside, for 40 years.

posted on 11/16/2023 in Features

Every family is unique and has a special story!

This is the Uhlenkamp's story:

"My husband Mike and I are parents of 6 children-five sons and one daughter. Our oldest son is married to Elizabeth and have a son, Charlie, and daughter, Carly. Our son Chris is married to Brooke and have two daughters, Chloe and Hayden. Next in the lineup are our twin sons Connor and Colin. Our fifth son is Cole and our daughter Camille is the youngest."

Uhlenkamp 2"We built our family through childbirth and adoption. Pregnancy did not come easy for us, and we came to the realization after working through infertility treatments, what we wanted was a family to parent and not necessarily the pregnancy. The decision to pursue adoption involved much soul searching and questioning “what ifs," when we decided life comes with no guarantees for anyone at any time. We chose foreign adoption for a couple of reasons. We had friends that had this experience and shared their journey with us. My mother sent me a newspaper article from my hometown about family friends who adopted through ”Holt International." We learned Holt had an office in the Omaha area that was well established in the foreign adoption realm and placed children in our area. We reached out for information and started the journey."

"Adoption involves much paperwork including personal references, background questions and social work home study. While the process looks daunting at the beginning, the agency was helpful in answering questions and providing counseling along the way. The Holt agency originally started adoption during the Korean conflict and since has expanded their program to 11 countries at this time. We chose to work with the Korean program through “Holt International” and over a period of 4 years made 3 trips to Seoul, South Korea to bring our children home. Once the paper work was complete and our home study was done (about a 5 month process) our social worker told us “now we wait” and we were prepared for 4-6 months before a child would be referred to us. However, our wait was short! Only three months, and we were referred twins as our first adoption. In all three of our adoption journeys the process seemed to take as long as a pregnancy!"

"We traveled to Korea to bring our children home and were required to spend three business days in Korea before leaving. We were given a one week notice that it was time to travel to Korea and with the help of a wonderful local travel agent-we arrived in Seoul, South Korea in the requiredUhlenkamp time. We met with the agency staff, foster mother and child on day one, went back three days later to the agency, were given last minute instructions on navigating immigration and any new information about our child, and off we went to the airport for the road home! We loved meeting with the Korean agency staff and the foster mothers that so lovingly care for the children in their homes. It was an experience we treasure. With Cole’s adoption, the foster mother invited us to her home for a meal, none of us spoke the other’s language, but our older kids who accompanied us on the trip ended up playing “rock, paper, scissors” with the foster mother’s young son!"

"The twins were almost a year old when they arrived home, Cole was 10 months and Cami was 9 months old. Adapting to a new member of the family is always hectic and full of unknowns every day. Our older kids Cory and Chris were a huge help in developing a new household routine and are fiercely protective, proud and loyal to their younger siblings."

"There are many parallels in bringing a new child into the home whether it be by birth or adoption. It is a bonding process that begins with pictures and updates from the agency – much like hearing Ua fetal heartbeat for the first time and the ultrasounds. The big day or as we call it ”Gotcha Day” is somewhat similar to delivery day with all the emotion, excitement, logistics, sleep deprivation, celebration, and dealing with unknowns. I personally hate to fly so my analogy of childbirth to our trips to Korea and “delivery by adoption” was that I labored in an airplane and delivered on the tarmac in Omaha. Once home, similarities are adapting to sleep patterns (meaning deprivation as the kids literally have lived in a different time zone!), feeding schedules, meeting the other members of the family and watching the new family member’s personality be revealed."

"We are so grateful to have both experiences of birth and adoption in building our family. The gift of life is priceless and not a day goes by that we don’t think of the sacrifice made by our children’s birth mothers and foster mothers out of pure love for life and their babies. Each year when we celebrate birthdays we remember this and all the people involved in our the adoption process."

National Adoption Month is about spreading awareness. It is a month to encourage others to learn about adoption, to hold adoption related events, and to acknowledge the people whose lives have been impacted by adoption. The mission of National Adoption Month is to celebrate the families who have grown through adoption, and to recognize the many children who are still waiting for forever families.

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