By DAVE MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Step into the Garden City home of Joe and Laci Salazar and it’s easy to envision a child romping around their living room, excited little pooches Daizey and Moto delighting the toddler into squeals of giggles, two loving parents ready and eager to scoop up the child into their arms.
Joe and Laci represent the quintessential American story: A son and a granddaughter of immigrants, both natives of Garden City, Kansas, meeting only after they had attended school together, falling in love, getting married, finding success in their professions—all amid an endearing faith in their loving Lord.
The picture is replete with extended family stretching for miles and for years, including a 92-year-old grandmother—a history text filled with stories of her life, ever eager to share.
What’s missing from the picture is that one little child.
But with the help of Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas Open Adoption Program, as well as a Wichita Christian adoption program called “St. Nick,” the couple hope to give a loving home to a newborn child … by Christmas? A Christmas miracle, to be sure......
They remain patient. The couple has suffered through five losses, three of which were miscarriages. Doctors told Laci her body couldn’t take another such trauma.
“When we first pursued it last year, we knew we wanted a closed adoption,” Laci said. A closed adoption is when information is not exchanged between the birth parent and the adoptive parents.
“Through Catholic Charities we learned about open adoption and were amazed.”
The open adoption system allows the birth parents to be a part of the child’s life. By taking that mystery out of the equation, it is hoped that a healthier environment is created for the child, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents.
Over a period of months, the couple attended in-depth classes taught by Lori Titsworth, an adoption social worker with Catholic Charities Open Adoption Program. One class resulted in a personal website created by the couple. It is, in effect, a love letter to the birth parent.
Dear Birth Mom:
“We would like to thank you for taking the time to view our profile. We cannot imagine all of the different emotions you must be going through during this time. We know you must be a strong-hearted and loving person to make this selfless decision, and we cannot thank you enough for considering us as an option to parent your child….”
The site includes personal essays Joe and Laci provide about themselves and each other. Their history. How they met. Their love for each other. What kind of parents they would be. And photos, past and present.
Joe, a Material Handling Supervisor for Tyson, was reared with his four brothers and two sisters, often running off to the park adjoining their home to play baseball, basketball or football with the neighborhood kids. Of course, this was only after he was finished with his paper route, and later, when he worked at age 15 for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, spending hot summer days in a cornfield cross pollinating.
His father, Jesus, is from Mexico, immigrating when he was 14 or 15. His mother is from San Antonio. When not working or spending time with family, Joe enjoys woodworking and painting, many results of which decorate their home—and a good game of softball.
Laci is a respiratory therapist. She is the youngest of three siblings to Ron and Melissa (Ohl) Leiker. She and her two older brothers enjoyed summers playing a neighborhood game of hide and seek, with the family spending many a weekend at a lake.
Among her hobbies is baking with her mother and grandmother.
“Grandmother is from Mexico,” she said. “Her dad was killed by a train when she was 17. She and her oldest brother farmed while her mom cared for two younger siblings. Then my grandpa was killed in a car wreck when my grandmother was pregnant with my mother….”
Joe and Laci host a Facebook site detailing their day to day journey toward adoption.
“It’s called ‘Joe and Laci’s Adoption Journey’,” Joe said. “Through the site we make connections, let other people who may be looking to adopt see what we’re going through. It’s a personal look into our lives right here, right now.”
Family is an adventure with impossibly joy-filled times and equally sad times. Laci and Joe have each shared this adventure with their extended families, and now wish to begin a new adventure with an immediate family of their own. Perhaps there will be a Christmas miracle. But either way, the couple remain patient in their faith that like the Christmas child who came 2,000 years ago, their child will come in God’s time.