Muskogee Couple One Of First U.S. Families To Adopt Nigerian Child
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - A Muskogee couple is one of the first American families to adopt a child from Nigeria. The African country has a mandatory 12-month waiting period.
But as this family found out - the wait became even longer.
"When I saw her picture - I mean, her picture was just adorable," said Beth Haff.
Beth Haff became instantly drawn to a 3-year-old Nigerian girl known only as Ruth. Ruth was abandoned and living in an orphanage nearly 6,500 miles away from Beth's home in Muskogee.
"We basically were the first to inquire about her," Beth said.
Beth and her husband Shane already have a young son named Allen, but they were ready to expand their family through adoption.
"We've been working on it for so long, it kinda just feels like one of those things that you just prepare for but you don't actually get to do," said Beth Haff, adoptive mother.
The Haffs prepared their son for his new sister.
"He's seen pictures; he's video chatted with her," said Shane Haff, adoptive father. "He's excited about it, but I don't think he full comprehends what's happening."
Now with Ruth's room all ready for her, the family prepared for a long stay in Nigeria before they could finally bring her home to Oklahoma.
"Lots of nervous energy but still really exiting," Beth said.
After 30 hours of flying halfway around the world, the Haffs finally made it to the city of Lagos in Nigeria to meet Ruth for the very first time in person.
"She was in a pretty poor part of the city," Beth said. "And I was trying to prepare myself for her being scared of us - all the while really wanting a miracle where she just runs into our arms."
"I was kind of prepared for the worst," Shane said.
The family was sitting in a room at the orphanage when a caregiver brought Ruth in.
The little girl clung to her caregiver and cried.
"She was pretty scared," Beth Haff said. "She backed up, hit her head on the door knob. So it was not an idea first meeting in my mind."
"Ultimately what broke the barrier was food," Shane Haff said. "She would come sit on our lap, and we would give her food."
After weeks of emotional ups and downs, Ruth started to warm up to her new family. But Shane and Allen had to return to Muskogee.
Beth had to stay back for another five weeks until Ruth's visa was ready.
"I can remember taking off from Lagos just feeling like weights had dropped off me," she said.
Finally home, Ruth is settling into her new life - making new friends, with her brother Allen right by her side.
"She's branching out, and we're starting to see her just kind of become her own little person now," Beth said.
"The pictures of her before we went over there to the pictures of her and Allen now - the difference in her eyes, her smile, the way that she carries herself," Shane said.
"That has been everything that we've dreamed of and more," Beth said.
The average cost for an international adoption is around $36,000 and the referral time takes anywhere from several months to several years