We’ve been asked a few times what drew us to adoption, specifically adopting a chromosomally enhanced child. I’m not entirely sure where to start so I guess I’ll just talk about our back grounds and experiences with the amazing world of differently abled people…
My mom said I was volunteering in the special eduction classroom as early as grade 1 and continued to help out were I could through out school. My real immersion began when my mom began working for Chilliwack Society for Community Living when I was 13. We would get to hang out with the people she was serving often. When I was 17 my sister Maggy came in to my life. I’ve said it before… She saved our family. She came to us during our angry, tumultuous teenage years but she was the unifying presence in our family. We would all drop everything to stand up for her. She gave so much love, silent understanding, and a constant ear to listen or lap to cuddle in. After high school I continued volunteering occasionally and began working professionally for people with special needs after I was married. I worked independently for a few micro-boards and Jon and I began doing respite in our home on some weekends. When I had had enough of waitressing I started working for an agency in a group home. I loved the clients there and they taught me so much. I ended up switching agencies after a year or two and also took a job working as an Education Assistant in the high school with kids needing extra support. I continued working part time in a group home after Livi was born but because of funding cuts, I was laid off a few months earlier than planned. I’m not sure if I’m going to go back in to the field after Sofie settles in to our family, but I guess we will see what life brings!
Jon’s experience didn’t start until much later than mine. As a teenager, the Kenos were a part of his church and had adopted a son with Down Syndrome. Jon loved that kid and Brent was his first introduction in to the world of extra chromosomes. The summer Jon was 19, he had just been laid off from his job from the book store. John Keno asked him if he wanted to volunteer at a camp for the summer. Since Jon had no other plans and, being in Port Alberni, little hope of finding any paying job, he agreed to go. This was, quite possibly, one of the most changing experiences of his life. That summer was stressful, amazing, exhausting and fulfilling all at the same time. Jon worked with adults and children with all sorts of different abilities and needs, and came away feeling like he had got more out of the experience than he had contributed. Since then Jon has had a passion for people with various special needs, and now works for Community Living BC, organizing and contracting for service to people with Developmental Disabilities. He has also worked as a life skills worker for a teenager with Autism, and recently taught him to drive!
I remember the first time Jon met my family, I was amazed at how comfortable he was with Maggy. Any other guys that had met her were always quite awkward and stiff. They didn’t know how to talk to her. Jon was completely different. He shook her hand just as he had my mother’s. He bent down, matching her eye level and talked to her as the adult she was. This caught my mom’s attention. She knew he was a keeper before I did!
Neither of us remember when we first started talking about adoption. It was always just understood that we both wanted it, like we both wanted a birth child. We also knew that we would love to adopt a child with special needs. I think we were made for each other in that respect. We are both so blessed to be so completely in sync when it comes to our family.
Although we both knew we wanted to adopt in our future, we did not plan on adopting this early on in our lives together. We had thought that we would have two or three birth children and then look in to adoption down the road. January I received an email from the Kenos, forwarded from their adoption agency about a little one year old girl from the Phillipines needing a home. Although that child did not have Down Syndrome, this got me thinking about how perfectly a little girl, the same age as Livi, would fit in to our family. I think I sat on the idea for a day before mentioning it to Jon. Particularly with the 18 months we had just come out of, I expected him to throw out the notion as one of my crazy, rash ideas… but he didn’t. He stopped and looked at me, nodded slightly, and said “that could be kind of perfect.” My heart skipped a beat. This was going to happen! Our dream of adopting a child with an extra chromosome was going to come true!
There was still many conversations to have and research to do. Adopting earlier than planned meant re-evaluating our finances and putting off any thoughts of another birth child a little longer. We decided to move to save money, be closer to family for support and have a yard for our girls. I’m not sure if God plans details of our lives or not, but if He does, this road for our family was definitely ordained. I need to remember this during the uncontrollable, difficult times of this adoption process.
I’m finding right now to be the most difficult time. We know who she is. I dream about her little face and holding her in arms but so much could still go wrong that I find myself distancing myself emotionally at times. What if she isn’t approved for us to adopt? What if there are paper’s lost or new hoops to jump through? What if something terrible happens to her before we can get to her and protect her? What if this takes much longer than we are expecting? I feel so close but so helpless to take the next step. I want to talk about our adoption and Sofie, but sometimes get frustrated with questions because I have no new information. Everything just seems still so uncertain and out of my control. I just want her home.