When we were in the initial stages of discussing family building, knowing that we would adopt, but not having many particulars figured out yet, we spoke to a lot of people and read a lot of accounts from adoptees. We wanted to do what was right for our family, and of course it made sense that doing what was right for our family included looking at the needs of every person in our family. The message we got time and again is that children who are adopted need someone who can understand them so that they don’t feel alone. From our research, we came to the conclusion that having friends in the same type of situation would be fantastic, but having another child in our family who came from similar circumstances would be even better. It made sense to us in a very basic way, too. We knew that we would likely become a transracial adoptive family, and it seemed like it would be incredibly isolating to a child if they were the only one in our family who looked different from all the rest of us. So we determined that we would adopt more than one child, and that our children would come from the same place, if possible. That was basic for us.
We also felt that if we were choosing adoption because we wanted to be a family to a child who needed one, and we could handle some special needs, then that was the right path for us. We had health excellent insurance, so a lot of things would be covered. When we went through Zinashi’s adoption, we made a list of special needs we could accommodate that we felt was fairly extensive, though certainly not exhaustive. We had limits, and we were going to respect those limits. When we saw Zinashi’s face, that all went out the window.
Zinashi showed up on our agency’s waiting list because of the combination of being older than is usually preferred and having a medical need. The medical issue was one that could be something or could be nothing, and there was no way to know which way the pendulum would swing. And yet we found that we didn’t care, not the way we thought we would. We cared about what it would mean for her, but found that all our well-reasoned parameters didn’t matter to us at all. We wanted to be her parents, and we realized that with that desire came the willingness to walk through whatever would come of her diagnosis. Mild or severe, we were in it to win it.
No parenting journey is made up of certainty, and when you commit to your child, you commit to walking through whatever comes. Loving Zinashi and committing to her regardless opened the doors of our hearts and minds in ways they hadn’t been opened before. When we were ready to adopt again, our list of special needs was so extensive that the agency director laughed when she realized that instead of asking what we were open to, she should instead ask what we didn’t feel prepared to handle. For us, there was one thing, and that was knowing that we would have to arrange for care for our child after the end of our own lives. That, to me, was the one line I wasn’t ready to cross, to know that my child would likely survive me but wouldn’t be able to care for herself.
And so we set out in January with a broad spectrum of diagnoses written into our home study and a desire to parent a child whose information might look like too much of a challenge for many other families. We knew what we’d been through with Zinashi, when the medical issue cleared up on its own and the real challenge was in helping her heal from traumatic events she still remembers. It has been a hard road, and we have worked tirelessly, but it has also been the most joyful twenty months of my life. I know that we can handle whatever comes. I know that it will be hard, but that it will be worth it. I know in the end, love really does win, if you work at it.
And so we come to Elvie. Mid-March, we heard of a baby with a very rare and serious medical need. On April 9th, we found out that the limited medical information we had been given in the beginning was all that we had to go on. It didn’t take a second for me to say yes when the agency asked if we would be her family. We are comfortable with uncertainty. We’ve been there before, and we are not afraid. Our first daughter taught us about the possibilities; we can’t wait to see what our second daughter will teach us.