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Best Things Of The Worst Summer: Adopting A Child, No Matter What

Gina and Marc and Niki
Poirier Family Photo
Gina and Marc Poirier with their daughter, Niki, in Bulgaria.

Let’s admit it: Summer 2020 has been awful. (Thanks, COVID-19.) But some in Bloomington-Normal have managed to find bright spots in an otherwise dark summer. These are WGLT’s Best Things Of The Worst Summer.

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The year 2020 got off to a pretty good start for Gina and Marc Poirier.

After six years of trying relentlessly to adopt, the Bloomington couple was able to travel to Bulgaria in February. They met a 2-year-old girl, Niki, who would become their daughter.

“I remember thinking, ‘2020 is gonna be a great year. Things are finally coming together.’”

And that’s about when things came apart. By mid-March, with their new daughter trapped halfway around the world, the coronavirus hit.

“When you sign up for adoption, you analyze every scenario that could go wrong, because a lot of things could go wrong. You try to prepare yourself,” Gina said. “I remember thinking, pandemic was not on the list of things they prepared us for.”

Gina and Marc had a pretty full life, even before Niki came into it. They had three biological children, ages 11, 9, and 7. Gina is a freelance copywriter and blogger. Marc is the general manager at a local staffing agency.

They started their adoption journey in 2014—and it wasn’t until Christmastime 2019 when they learned about Niki, who was living with a foster family in Bulgaria. The Poiriers went to visit in February.

"Pandemic was not on the list of things they prepared us for."

“Until we saw her, she was this idea. But then when we met her, it’s like OK, she’s ours,” Marc said.

They said it felt at times like an arranged marriage.

“You have so much tied up in this person that you don’t know at all. And you’re making this life-changing commitment to be with them. And we had to start from scratch, learning everything about her,” Marc said.

And they did, thanks to regular video calls through Niki’s foster family. She liked music, so they sang to her.

The waiting game stretched from February until the summer. With European travel restrictions in place, they didn’t know when they’d get to pick Niki up. It was tough.

Gina and Marc were extremely COVID-conscious because they feared losing Niki if one day they got the call and they were sick and unable to fly to Bulgaria.

“We tried to position everything in our lives so they said, if you go, we could go on a moment’s notice. If there was going to be a window open, we didn’t know how long it would be or how it would work,” Marc said.

But in June, they got word that the adoption was finalized, and that the Bulgarian government was offering a travel ban exemption for adoptions. So they hightailed it to O’Hare but ran into another roadblock—the airline wouldn’t give them their boarding passes. They were stuck.

Until they weren’t.

“To this moment, we don’t know (how we got through),” Marc said. “An answer to a prayer? We had a lot of people praying for us at that point. We were standing there, despondent, thinking we’re not going. Another delay. But then it opened up.”

They had to quarantine in an apartment in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city, for two weeks before being allowed to reunite with Niki on July 18 and bring her home. It was their Gotcha Day.

“Every (adoption) journey is unique to each family. This was our journey. All’s well that ends well,” Marc said.

Added Gina: “We have a great story to tell her, about how much we wanted her.”

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.