Adoptions fill the Dombeck family


CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Tracy and Derek Dombeck stand with their children, Makenna, 11, Lexi, 6 months, and Robbie, 7.

Wolf River Media recently chatted with Tracy Dombeck, of Eland, about the process she and her husband, Derek, went through to adopt two of their three children. Makenna, 11, was born through in vitro fertilization. Robbie, who will be 7 on Feb. 27, and 6-month-old Lexi were adopted.


Q: What was your motivation to adopt Robbie? Where is he from? How old was he when he joined the family?

A: We had some fertility issues and went though a lot to get Makenna. She was an IVF (in vitro fertilization) baby and we were fortunate to have her on our first try. After that, we had some frozen embryos that we tried again with and had no luck. We did one more fresh cycle of IVF and once again had no luck. We decided instead of spending all this money on a “chance” that we would spend the money and actually bring a child home.

We tried to get into Lutheran Social Services’ domestic infant program, and it’s a lottery draw, so after a couple of times not being chosen, we sat down with our social worker from LSS and she told us about the China-Child of Promise program. We knew we wanted a boy as we already had Makenna, and there was a need for families to adopt boys from China, as everyone thinks you go to China to get a girl. Robbie is from the Heilongjiang Provence of China, very northern China that borders Russia. We traveled to Harbin, China, to get him and do his adoption paperwork. He was actually from a smaller town about four hours north of Harbin. We were able to get him one week before his first birthday and he turned one while we were in China with him. We spent 17 days in China. Makenna stayed here with my parents, Andy and Mary Peterson, when we went to get Robbie.

Q: Were both adoptions arranged through LSS?

A: LSS did our home study and post-placement for both adoptions. Our social worker pointed us to the China program through Holt International for Robbie and An Open Door in Thomasville, Georgia, for Lexi.

Q: How did you two and Makenna adjust?

A: Makenna was excited to get a brother and, being 5 years old, was a great helper, and we really had no issues.

Q: What about adding Lexi to the family? Where is she from? How old was she when she joined the family?

A: We never officially said we were done adding to our family after Robbie. Someone once said to us, “Adoptions are like chips, you can never have just one!” Derek and I had gone to a Packers preseason game and had a couple with two young boys sitting behind us. It was the boys’ first Packer game and so we interacted with the family throughout the game. After the game Derek said we should have another one. Well, apparently that was all I needed to hear, and I started doing research on domestic adoption agencies. Almost one year from when we decided to adopt again we welcomed Lexi into our family. Lexi was born in Marietta, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. We got her when she was just 13 days old.

Q: How did you two and Makenna and Robbie adjust?

A: We gave the kids the option, and Makenna decided to travel with us to Georgia to get Lexi. Robbie chose to stay here with my mom, because “Grandma spoils me!” They were both very excited to get a little sister. Robbie really wanted a boy but is now in love with his sister. They are older and so they understand more about it. We have always talked openly about adoption in our home and so it really wasn’t a big deal for them.

Q: Were these both closed adoptions? Had you considered open adoption?

A: Robbie’s adoption is, of course, a closed one as there is no way of knowing who his birth family is. Lexi’s birth mom picked us to be her forever family. She liked that we had kids as she has two daughters that she is raising and wanted Lexi to have siblings. She also liked the fact that we had Robbie and so Lexi wasn’t going to be the only one in the family to have a different skin color. We were able to meet her while we were in Georgia. I don’t know that we will hear from her again. She didn’t ask for our contact info, but we do have to send reports back to the adoption agency in Georgia, along with photos, and she can access that information at any time.

Q: Had you considered older or special needs children for adoption?

A: Robbie was actually in a special needs program called Child of Promise. These are children that have mild and correctable special needs. You have to realize that in the Chinese culture everything revolves around luck, and a child that has a physical special need, especially a boy, as they are the family’s retirement plan, is frowned upon. Also rural Chinese do not have access to medical treatments. His special need was a birthmark called a hemangioma and has since faded. Most of the children in our travel group of 12 families were in this program. We saw lots of cleft lip, minor heart conditions, a couple of older children. They really encourage you to adopt in birth order, so since we had Makenna we needed to look at younger children.

Q: What’s the qualifying/screening process? Was your wait time average, longer or shorter?

A: China keeps changing the rules. I am not sure what they are exactly now. It was 18 months from the time we decided to adopt until we got Robbie. There were not as many restrictions on the domestic side. From the time we decided to adopt Lexi until we brought her home was a year. I believe that since we were open to more, the time was shorter.

Q: Do you have a support group or connection with other parents of adopted children?

A: We still keep in contact with many of the families we traveled to China with. Also many Facebook groups that I belong to. I love to talk about adoption and have been approached by many families to help them in their adoption journey. We have met a lot of local couples through our classes at LSS, and Catholic Charities puts on a lot of adoption workshops and get-togethers in the area.

Q: What was an unexpected joy or event with either child?

A: With Robbie we really lucked out that there was no orphanage in the town he was born in. They placed him in a social welfare home so basically an old folks’ home. He had lots of grandmas to care for him.

As for Lexi, it was nice to be able to meet her birth mother, to ask her questions and have a bit of history. We have photos so one day when she asks we have something to tell her. Her birth mom was so appreciative of a family to take her child in — that was one thing I didn’t expect.