"Since I've been four years old, I've wanted to adopt and it was just something that was meant to be," says new mother Kathy Toldo.
It was an instant connection between Kathy Toldo and her adopted son Ander. Just the way her mother Mary Carlson remembered the day she became a mom.
"I looked at my daughter and her face was just glowing and they both seemed to know each other right away," Carlson says.
Mary and Kathy traveled to South Korea on Easter Sunday to pick up Ander, now eight months old.
"My youngest daughter Amy and Kathy got together and convinced me that I'd be traveling with Kathy to Korea which is probably the best thing they've ever convinced me to do," Carlson says.
Kathy and her husband Augie adopted ander through Lifelink International Adoption. It's an agency that places about thirty children from Korea with Rockford-area families each year.
"The Toldos have just been a wonderful family. They're very enthusiastic about Ander's birth country," says Laura Stroup, a caseworker with Lifelink International.
While this was a female bonding experience, Augie was playing Mr. Mom at home. While his main focus was taking care of their four-year-old biological daughter Renate, he couldn't help but anxiously await the couple's new arrival.
"Renate and i had a great bonding time. We were on the internet all the time e-mailing them back and forth," Augie says.
Ander has been with the family for three weeks now and already his big sister is looking out for him.
"I like him...and actually, I love him too," Renate says.
Kathy says the family is doing what they can to make the transition easier on Ander.
"We have pictures and we have Korean music, you know, try to make homelife somewhat similar to South Korea as we can," Kathy says.
"We like to do peek-a-boo sometimes. I think he likes that a lot," Renate says.
And while the whole process wound up costing them around twenty thousand dollars, Kathy says it was well worth it.
"I would pay so much more. You can't put a price tag on him, that's awesome," she states.
Now while the Toldos say adoption has enriched their lives, it is by no means an simple process.
According to their website, the adoption application process through Lifelink takes between eight to eighteen months in Illinois depending on the country the child comes from. Families wishing to adopt must meet strict guidelines and subject themselves to a thorough background check as part of the application process.
And for those of you who were wondering, Ander's father says he will grow up as a Chicago Cubs fan.
More information about Lifelink can be found on their website at www.lifelinkadoption.org