Barbara, Like Sadie, I feel like an ambassador for open adoption. My husband Jeff was adopted in 1963 and we adopted a domestic newborn in…...
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Adoption Blog: Raising a Rainbow
Our Work-in-Progress Adoption Journey
If you were a fly on the wall of our home on a typical evening, you’d find my 2-year-old, Rose,* squatting on the family-room floor, her tutu of choice spread around her as she plays with her collection of toy trains. Blink and she’s on top of her 6-month-old sister, Lily,* smothering her with kisses, with my infant shrieking in protest. I mediate, redirecting my toddler to her coloring book while swooping up the baby and showering her with kisses to hopefully return her to a state of contentment so I can finish making dinner. I hear the door open and my husband steps through it, tugging off his tie, as our toddler rushes to greet her father with a hug and a reach for the cell phone in his pocket. I yell, “Dinner in five,” to my husband, who is now holding both of the children. I rush to throw another load of the ever-reproducing laundry into the washing machine and then get back into the kitchen to stir a pot of bubbling pasta. I shut the dishwasher door with my foot while carrying several plates of steaming spaghetti to the table. Whew!
This wasn’t the life I pictured when I got married.
Our first few years of marriage were busy yet blissful. I was in grad school, studying to teach writing, while my husband began working his way up the corporate ladder. We traveled often, ate take-out pizza for dinner, and slept in every Saturday morning.
Two years into our marriage, I contracted a severe stomach virus while visiting relatives over Thanksgiving break. From that point forward, I experienced drastic weight loss, extreme hunger and thirst, an urgency to use the restroom often, mood swings, and reoccurring sinus infections. A year after getting the virus, my symptoms were worsening to include blurry vision, tingling feet, bedwetting, and obsessive urges to drink and eat as much as possible. I went to five different medical professionals seeking answers, but I was told that I simply needed to eat more in order to gain weight, and I was unofficially diagnosed with anorexia.
In March of 2006, my husband took me to the emergency room. I was struggling to breathea horrible feeling. It was only about an hour later that a doctor burst into my room and said, “You have diabetes. We are admitting you for treatment.” I was carted off to the ICU, put on an insulin drip, and handed a stack of glossy brochures featuring supposedly happy diabetics. I was stunned and then heartbroken. My world had been shattered.
Type 1 diabetes is a disease that has no cure and can be deadly if not carefully and constantly managed. In fact, several nurses informed me that when I came into the hospital my blood sugar levels were so high that I should have been in a coma or dead. As I lay in my hospital bed, I felt like all I had were pieces of who I could have been. As a classic type-A personality, I had a plan for my life. Diabetes did not fit into that plan.
During my five-day hospital stay, I met with a diabetes nurse educator who trained me on injecting insulin, checking my blood sugar, and counting carbohydrates. During one of my conversations with her, she asked my husband and me if we wanted to have children. We both, without hesitation, said yes. She responded, “You still can.”
And in that moment, lying in a hospital bed, realizing how fragile my life was and how I had been given a second chance, one word popped into my mind without reservation: adoption.
The life I pictured when I got married didn’t involve an incurable disease. Adoption wasn’t on the table for us because we assumed we would have biological children. I never imagined my children would be of another race (we are Caucasian and both of our children are African-American). I never thought I’d be sharing my children with another set of parents and siblings (both of our adoptions are fully open).
Our oldest daughter, Rose, was born in late 2008. A year and a half later, we started our second homestudy process for our next child, figuring we’d probably wait over a year, just like we had for Rose. Much to our surprise, the day our homestudy was complete, we got “the call” (you know, the call) for our second child, Lily, who had already been born. Our calm family of three was suddenly moved into a whole new category of survival: parent-on-child defense, one parent per child.
Our life is crazy and beautiful.
But somehow, I don’t feel full.
I have a constant, persistent gnawing ache in my heart for the children in foster care who are free for adoption. AdoptUSKids reports that approximately 100,000 children are free for adoption in the United States right now. Many of these children have special needs (including type 1 diabetes!), are in sibling groups, or are minorities.
We have so much to give a child. With my health recovered and under control and our two precious daughters in our home, I know we have been blessed beyond any sort of human reason. And I know I was given a second chance to live instead of just float through life as I had before.
Our adoption journey is one that I consider to be a work in progress because we don’t know at this point what will happen for our family but we are considering what could be.
I hope you enjoy learning more about our family and the possibility of us adopting a child or children from the foster care system.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.
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