From The Lufkin Daily News:
Jason Arnold recalls the first time he met 11-year-old Ariana.
On the car ride over to meet the young girl, Arnold and his wife, Felicia, nervously asked themselves, “What if she doesn’t like us?”
“The second we sat down on a couch and she sat with us, we gave her a necklace with an A on it for her first name and our last name. And pretty much since then we have been pretty comfortable around each other,” Arnold said.
A few years ago the couple, parents to two boys, six-year-old Noah and three-year-old Landry, started to look into adopting a child. After nine months of training through Buckner International, the family became certified to be an adoptive family in September of last year.
“When we first started doing it, we were kind of up for whatever. We wanted to see how it all worked out,” Arnold said. “As we went further along we knew we were probably going to look for an older child. We have two boys and we decided we needed a daughter in the family. So we really started looking at girls and we saw Ariana’s picture. She has a beautiful smile and it just kind of jumps out at you. When we saw her profile, it really did kind of fit us.”
Ariana’s profile said she wanted a family who was busy, enjoyed outdoor activities, had siblings, went to church and had pets.
“It just made sense,” Arnold said.
The couple then notified Buckner they wanted to adopt Ariana. By December, the family was chosen, and on March 5 the Arnolds met Ariana for the first time. For the next three months, they enjoyed every weekend together getting to know each other and spending quality time together.
“We just hit it off,” Arnold said. “It’s been pretty comfortable. She came here, she was able to see her room, and start decorating her room and getting acclimated to our house, her house, going to Sunday school and church, meeting new friends and those kind of things.”
Then on June 2, Ariana officially came to live with the Arnolds.
Ariana is now enrolled in taekwondo and soccer, and will start a dance and gymnastics class later this summer. She will also be able to help decorate her own room that is currently filled with flowers, zebra prints and her name largely printed on the wall.
“We wanted to have her own room to move into, and we wanted her to decorate it, but we also didn’t want her to move into a blank room,” Arnold said. “She’s picked out some paint that we are going to paint her bed and the walls, so she can make it 100 percent Ariana’s.”
Being a father of two boys and now adding in a young preteen, Arnold said it’s “extremely different” raising a girl.
“I’m not sure if I figured how to raise boys, so I definitely don’t know how to raise a girl,” he said with a smile. “I’ve learned shopping is not my thing. We got to go fishing a couple of weeks ago and show her a few things. She caught a few fish. She’s learning how to take care of chickens, and she is going to get to go with me to the deer lease when the weather gets a little better. It’s neat having a girl in the house.”
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