Bound by love

Jones’ find that family ties strengthen through bonds, not blood


photo courtesy of Annie Jones

Freshman Annie Jones smiles with her father, Tim Jones, and her brother, Matthew Jones, on a beach in Florida on a family vacation. November is National Adoption Month, which was established to raise awareness for children in the foster system looking to be adopted.

Makayla Archambeault

Freshman Annie Jones is among the nearly 1.5 million children who have been adopted in the United States, about 2% of the population. Born in Guatemala, Annie was adopted when she was 6 months old and came to America before Guatemala passed new adoption legislation in December of 2007 that paused all adoptions to or from the country.

“For a long time, ever since I found out I was adopted, I wanted to meet my parents, but it’s hard because they’re foreigners and it’s going to be hard to communicate with them and find out who they are,” Annie said. “I wasn’t sad when I found out I was adopted. My skin color is a lot more tan than my other family members, so there was definitely some difference and distance between us [and] it made sense when I found out.”

After having their son, senior Matthew Jones, the Jones’ chose to adopt Annie.

Annie’s father, Assistant Principal Tim Jones said, “My ex-wife had some infertility issues. She didn’t want to go through the process again, there were some health risks for her, so she originally said we would just have one child. But she was at a women’s retreat Bible study a couple of years later and came home one day and said, ‘I’d like to adopt’ so I said, ‘Okay, where from?’ and she said Guatemala, so we started that process,”

Tim vividly remembers the day he met Annie for the first time.

“I was really excited, I remember when they handed us the baby in the Westin hotel in Guatemala City and they brought her the day we got there in the lobby. I don’t think she had been around a male figure with facial hair so she just started crying right away, she didn’t hit it off with me right away. The foster mother that had been raising her since birth had two daughters, I don’t think there was a male in the home. My ex-wife and her bonded right away, [but] it took a couple of months before my daughter let me hold her without crying,” Tim said.

Annie and her brother, Matthew Jones, spend time at a mini-golf attraction in Alabama. The siblings have grown closer over time and have found that their one-year overlap at Lafayette has been positive. “Sometimes she’ll come up and hug me from behind in the halls and I’m like ‘what the heck?’ It’s different, it’s good to see her though and see her being involved in school,” Matthew said. (photo courtesy of Annie Jones)

The process was long and complicated, but Tim found the end result well worth it.

“It’s a lot more difficult to adopt than to have a child naturally. We had to have a background check and social worker visits. They really make sure to place a child in a home that will have a safe environment, whereas if you’re having one naturally, no one’s telling you what to do,” he said. “When we cleared it with their government and our government, we were excited to go to Guatemala and get her. In order to leave their country with her, we had to have all sorts of papers, visas, things like that and then when you come back to America, they don’t let her enter unless you have all the documents. Once she’s here, though, she’s ours. She’s sweet as can be, very loving and just like any other child. There’s no difference between adopted and not, once they’re your child, the other stuff just kind of goes away.”

When Matthew was 3 years old, his parents brought Annie home from Guatemala. Although the two fight, they both agree that they grew closer as they got older.

“Boys mature a little later than girls do, so we’ve had our fights. It’s been a long road between me and Matthew and our relationship but we’re getting better. We’re both maturing, we’re both getting older and experiencing new things,” Annie said.

Matthew acknowledges Annie’s past struggles with her adoption, but also recognizes that she’s grown a lot since then.

“I remember when she was younger she would almost be sad about [being adopted] and say stuff like ‘you’re not my real brother’, but that was when she was younger. She understands now, but I feel bad for her because she had to go through that. [I’ve talked with my parents] a little bit to make sure she knows she’s part of the family as much as everyone else is; she knows that now. Becoming older and seeing the real world, I think, [helped her overcome her struggle]. She’s made me a better person, she’s made me more mature and not take things for granted,” Matthew said.

While the family never formally told Annie she was adopted, Tim remembers a conversation they had with her after another child said something to Annie about it.

Annie and her father, Tim Jones, take a photo on a beach in Alabama. The two are close and enjoy vacation time they get to spend together. “We have a lot of fun, Annie’s got a great sense of humor. She’s very talented in a lot of areas and very loving and giving,” Tim said. (photo courtesy of Annie Jones)

“Some kid I think came up and told her ‘you’re adopted’ because she doesn’t look the same as us. Once she started asking about it, we talked to her. We’re people of Christian faith, so we just said God adopted us as his children through our belief in Jesus Christ so no matter where we’re at in the world or what our background is, it’s a strong bond, that’s what we’ve done with you. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, we’re your mom and dad. We did explain to her that her birth mother wanted her to have a better life and that’s why she unselfishly gave her up,” Tim said. “In Central America and most of the Hispanic countries down there, abortion is illegal, so they carry the child to term and the day the baby’s born they go to the hospital and give it up. There are people waiting across the world to adopt children that can’t have them that would love to adopt, or maybe they can have kids and they just want to adopt. We were thankful for that opportunity.”

Annie has wondered about her biological parents, but she has always felt a part of the family.

“These are the people that I’ve grown up with since I was very young. I adapted to how they lived and who they are and their personalities. These are the people I grew up with and now recognize as family,” Annie said. “My dad and my mom are my best friends for life. I tell my mom more about my life because [of that mother-daughter] relationship, but I live with my dad most of the time. We went to a father-daughter dinner dance in 7th Grade; I always have fun when I’m hanging out with my dad. With my mom, going Homecoming shopping was really fun, I love hanging out with her and going places because we can have good talks. I can share anything with my mom, I’ve had a lot of talks with her. [I tell her] a lot of drama, it helps me to self-reflect and make myself better. My mom is like my therapist.”

[Adoption] is a wonderful process, a wonderful opportunity for people if they want to expand their family, there are children all across the world that need a home.”

— Assistant Principal Tim Jones

After attending Geggie Elementary School and LaSalle Springs Middle School, Annie was originally planning on attending Eureka High School, where the majority of her friends were going, but she decided to attend Lafayette instead.

“When I switched over to Lafayette I had no clue who anybody was. My dad was the one who said I should try field hockey, it was something that was very scary when I started doing it, but [after] meeting some friends beforehand, I thought it was a good idea,” Annie said.

Annie finished her field hockey season this year and wrapped up the Fall Play after helping on the set crew. She plans to help with the Spring Musical in addition to finding other ways to get involved. 

Through her personal experience, Annie has found that family is not bound by the limitations of biological relationships.

“A family is people whom you love and whom you can connect with. It doesn’t have to be blood-related, or even if you are blood-related, a family can be any group of people that love each other,” she said.