We sat down and spoke with Cathy Magreta, (adoptive) mother of the founder of United Adoptees of Romania. She adopted her daughter, Viorica [Veronica] Magreta when she was 15 months old in 1995. Out of respect, we are using “Veronica” instead of “Viorica”, since that is what she and her husband named their daughter. We asked Mrs. Magreta a series of questions and asked her to elaborate as much a possible. We are so excited to share her insight with everyone.
Did you see the news reports about Romanian orphanages? How did they make you feel?
Mrs. Magreta explained that they had seen the 20/20 news reports, but they didn’t see them at the beginning of the adoption process. But as they got closer to the event (after they had seen Veronica’s picture and got involved emotionally), the devastating news reports began. Mrs. Magreta explained that she was petrified and she was sure Veronica’s dad was as well. People started to call Mr. and Mrs. Magreta questioning what they were doing. She explained, “we still believed that things would work out”. The Magreta’s did borrow a crib but stopped making larger purchases just in case. With tears running down her face, Mrs. Magreta explained, “we decided that we would go no matter what, but if it didn’t feel right we would just go back home childless”.
How did you find out about Romanian adoption?
Mrs. Magreta told us that she had found out through her parents. Her parents were invited to a Christmas dinner party and met a couple named Nancy and Val. They ran an adoption agency called Michigan International Adoption Agency. Mrs. Magreta and her husband called Val and told him they were interested, but he said he’d have to call them back. Unfortunately, Val lost their number and didn’t get back in touch for over a year. Val eventually found Mrs. Magreta’s phone number and called her back the day after they threw their annual Super Bowl party. Mrs. Magreta explained, “we honestly thought our last chance of having children was gone, but our luck changed”.
How long did the process take?
Excluding the year that Mrs. Magreta’s phone number was lost, the whole process was about nine months, just like a natural pregnancy. The process ended when Mrs. Magreta met her daughter for the first time on her 44th birthday.
What do you remember from your trip to Romania to adopt Veronica? What was Romania like? What was the orphanage like?
Mrs. Magreta explained that she was very tired when she and her husband arrived in Bucharest but was very excited. The Magreta’s stayed with an older couple (relatives of Val) while they were in Bucharest. They were very scared when they were taking the train to Braila – mostly due to the language barrier. The Magreta’s met a nice woman who shared her food with them and told them when to get off the train.
When they arrived in Braila, they stayed with a family. The head of the house was named Rodica; who waited for them when they arrived in Braila. She then drove the Magreta’s to her home where her two sons and daughter-in-law lived together. The family they stayed with gave them the biggest room they had during their stay. Mrs. Magreta explained that they fed she and her husband like kings, and were wonderful people.
Mrs. Magreta told us that Braila was very poor; they walked around everywhere. The Magreta’s saw gun holes in some buildings and saw lots of gypsies trying to sell their babies. “I remember everything so vividly”, she told us.
Mrs. Magreta explained, “the orphanage was pretty bad. The children had little to wear and eat. There were no diapers so the children sat on tattered blankets when we visited. It was very sad for the Magreta’s to see. Veronica developed jaundice and started rocking (self-stimulating action). When it was time to go to the bathroom, the babies were set on pots and had to sit there until they used them.
The couple had brought candy for the older kids and explained that the children got very excited to see them when they would come to the orphanage with candy. Mrs. Magreta told us that there were “too many memories to share”.
How did Veronica adjust to moving into a home from spending 15 months in an orphanage? What were some challenges?
“I thought she adjusted very well”, explained Mrs. Magreta. The couples biggest fear was their fairly large dog, Bomber. They didn’t know how he’d react to Veronica, but he took to her very well. “Bomber” was actually Veronica’s first word. When she first came to her new home Veronica ate like crazy, especially when she finally realized it was ok to eat with her hands. Once Veronica learned to put her hands down, she’d eat almost anything the Magreta’s would give her. Veronica wasn’t into taking naps and started walking less than 2 months after she had been brought to her new home in America. Mrs. Magreta explained that the biggest changes were that their daughter started smiling and took everything life had to offer.
When and how did you tell Veronica that she was adopted? How did she take it?
“We told Veronica that she was adopted as soon as we got back home”, explained Mrs. Magreta. It didn’t matter if she didn’t understand, we just told her that we picked her out of all the children in the world, she just naturally accepted it.
When did Veronica start asking questions about her birth family? How did it make you feel?
Mrs. Magreta explained that Veronica didn’t ask many questions because she and her husband didn’t have many answers. The only thing they really knew about Veronica’s birth mother what, Florin (one of the sons of the woman they stayed with, in Braila) told them. He went to school with Veronica’s birth mother; he told the Magreta’s that her birth mother looked kind of like Mrs. Magreta and was small.
Mrs. Magreta explained Veronica’s curiosity made she and her husband feel a little jealous. As Veronica got older she became more secretive and started to look on the internet for answers. Mrs. Magreta felt that at the time, Veronica was too young to start searching. Around 2008, Mrs. Magreta found pictures of a woman who said she was Veronica’s birth mother, but she explained that this woman looked like she came from an escort service.
Now that you know she has met her birth mother and birth family how do you feel? Do you support her decision to keep in touch?
Mrs. Magreta explained that she always told Veronica that she’d take her back to Romania to see the country when she got older, so she expected Veronica to find her birth mother. Mrs. Magreta explained that she didn’t think she [Veronica] felt that she was so accepting but Mrs. Magreta knew that her daughter would be curious. Mrs. Magreta explained that she would curious if she was in Veronica’s position. But Mrs. Magreta has come to terms and now accepts her daughter’s birth mother.
Mrs. Magreta explained to us that she and her daughter don’t really talk about her birth mother but commented that they really should. She did mention to us that when her daughter flew to Romania in 2017 and tried to meet her birth mother but was rejected, that Veronica called Mrs. Magreta quite upset. Mrs. Magreta suggested to her daughter to go back the next day with the flowers and try again.
How do you feel about Veronica starting United Adoptees of Romania?
Mrs. Magreta told us that she and her husband were excited about the process and hope that she will succeed and excel with her project.
If you could say anything to the Romanian government to help efforts in reopening Romanian adoption, what would you say?
Mrs. Magreta told us that she didn’t know much about current issues that the Romanian adoption system was having and assumed that the children still in the system were being adopted by other Romanian families. She thought that orphanages were a thing of the past. She told us that if there are still children in orphanages she thinks they should reopen their doors to families like hers that want to have children and have the resources to share with them.
We hope you enjoyed Mrs. Magreta’s interview!
To see Mr. Magreta’s interview you can view it here:
Thank you for taking the time to read and watch Mr. and Mrs. Magreta’s interviews. If you are interested in sharing your story with us please feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to hearing from you!