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Lynsey Ferris and her daughter Olivia, 3, share a laugh in their home on the U.S. Navy support site in Gricignano near Naples, Italy.
Lynsey Ferris and her daughter Olivia, 3, share a laugh in their home on the U.S. Navy support site in Gricignano near Naples, Italy. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

Somewhere in China lives Marla and Matt Linton’s future daughter.

Her laugh is still silent to the Lintons. The girl’s touch still unfelt. Her name still unknown.

But the little girl one day will be chosen to become the Lintons’ adopted daughter.

Two years ago in May the Lintons began the arduous process to adopt a little girl from China after they attended the annual international adoption symposium in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride ever since — a ride of waiting, of wondering, of exposing every detail of the family’s private life for a home study, and then waiting some more.

But a ride, she said, neither unexpected nor taken alone.

After Linton and her husband, Army Sgt. 1st Class Matt Linton, moved from Germany to Naples, Italy, Marla Linton soon linked up with area families who either have gone through the adoption process or are considering embarking on it.

“It’s a calling. Once it’s in your heart, you can’t ignore it,” said Lynsey Ferris, 41, who along with Linton heads a growing support group for Naples-area families and others.

The U.S. Navy is expanding informational campaigns and support services for families considering adoptions, creating support and referral services for individual base Fleet and Family Support Centers to sustain requests for adoption information.

On Sept. 17, the Navy will launch a Web page to offer additional information and adoption resources and tools. The site will be accessible from the Navy Fleet and Family Support Program homepage at

In Naples, Ferris is eager to share her family’s experience adopting Olivia from China, and notes that the family now is adopting two more from Ethiopia.

“In a couple of months, our family is going to go from two (children) to four, just like that, and it’s going to be an adjustment.”

Noah Ferris, 12, whom his mother affectionately refers to as “homegrown,” couldn’t be more excited. “Yes, I’m excited. Who wouldn’t be? I don’t know why people always ask me that. Who wouldn’t be excited to get a brother and sister? I’m getting both.”

To the families who think it’s too costly, Ferris has two words: “Think again.”

To get Olivia, Lynsey and Joe Ferris got rid of their cell phones, opted for basic cable television service, and renounced dining out. But they made it happen.

The fees aren’t usually paid all at once. “It’s pay as you go,” Ferris said. Would-be parents also have access to adoption grants and loans.

Costs range widely from virtually no cost to foster a child, to roughly $30,000 for adoptions. Start to finish, the Ferris family spent $20,000 to adopt Olivia, and anticipate spending $15,000 for the two Ethiopian children, not including travel costs to the States for the two to become U.S. citizens.

The Ferrises detail their experiences and offer advice for others considering adoption at

Adopting while living overseas presents unique challenges — from visas or residential permits to linking up with agencies specializing in those fields, said Linton, 37, already a mother of two. “There are challenges, but it’s definitely possible.”

Often, adopted children aren’t granted U.S. citizenship until they actually touch foot on U.S. soil — and overseas bases often don’t count, Ferris said. “That’s the most frustrating part, I think,” she said.

Her family will need to spend an additional $4,000 flying from Ethiopia to the United States before returning “home” to Italy.

There are numerous agencies and programs available to help people wanted to adopt, Linton said. “Find a program that fits you. Do research and talk to people who have been through it.”

The Naples area adoption support group will host a meeting Sept. 16 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the support site community center. The group tries to host a meeting at least once a month.


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