If you have been reading this blog for awhile you know that on Fridays I like to share stories of families or individuals that just make this world a better place….. Not just for my family but for the world as a whole. Today this post is personal, to all of us…..because we all played a small part in this beautiful adoption story. If any of you know me personally you know that last May I fell in love with a baby named Sofia. She fell in my lap on a beautiful sunny day in May and my heart was hers immediately. Although her plan was not to be my daughter she has always remained in that special please in my heart.
On May 24th, 2012 at 11:40pm I received this email….
Hi my name is tammi XXXXXX and my husband and I are home study ready and profile is all done! Can u get us any info on the baby girl? And what agency? We heard about her from a friend that read your blog!!!! We are so excited to adopt and we know we would be great parents to a special needs angel! We would love to be parents to a baby with down syndrome!!!!
xxx-xxx-xxxx cell and please feel free to call anytime of day or night!!!!
Little did I know that was the email from Sofia’s Mama. The Mama she was made in heaven for and the Mama she was meant to have. The most beautiful thing happened this past Monday. I received an email from Tammi, Sofia’s Mom. She introduced herself and she wanted to say thank you for our part in Sofia’s beautiful story. I dreamed of the day I would hear from Sofia’s family. I thought of her often and on that day I cried. I cried because I knew that Sofia was exactly where she was supposed to be, loved, supported and so very wanted.
Here is Sofia’s adoption story…..
1/ What made you decide to adopt a child?
We decided to adopt because we always knew we wanted to be parents and Marc and I found out we couldn’t have children the conventional way! So-we found an adoption coordinator and an attorney and decided that no matter how long it took we would become parents!
2/ What made you and your husband decide to adopt a child with a disability and how long did you have to wait until you found your precious daughter?
When Marc and I decided to adopt, we never really talked about whether we were open to special needs children because we both thought deep down that the baby that was meant for us would somehow find us. You see, my brother has cerebral palsy and Marc’s nephew has a high functioning form of autism. We both got to see how amazing it is to parent a child with special needs. And because of my parents non stop advocating for my brother to make sure he became all he can be, he now drives his own car, has a part time job, and is the nicest most amazing brother ever. Marc’s nephew beat the odds and is a history major at university of buffalo! Our thought was–with 2 amazing family members who happen to have disabilities how could we not be ecstatic at the thought of becoming a parent to a child with special needs?!? We would be the lucky ones if someone chose us to be the adoptive parents to such a precious gift! We actually met some people thru my work that adopted 2 little boys with Down syndrome and they sat down with us and told us who to contact and what people to befriend on Facebook, we actually only had to wait one month before our amazing Sofia was in our arms!
3/ How did you find out about your sweet Sofia?
My friend happened to be on Facebook one night around 1 am and saw a beautiful family blog about precious Sofia and how they would do anything to have her as their daughter, but did not have the proper paperwork to move forward with adopting her,and basically did a shout out to anyone in “Facebook land” that might be interested in her to please contact them ASAP. So my friend actually called me at 1 am and was so extremely excited to tell me that she found a baby! And maybe this little girl was meant for us. I then contacted Katie thru the blog and got contact information for this little miracle!
4/ What was the process after you found out she was available?
The process after we found Sofia ( or she found us ! ) was nothing short of a Miracle process! Oh my gosh, when I tell you we had to climb over every mountain to make her ours I’m so not kidding! I will start from the beginning– once I received the info about where Sofia was from, we contacted the agency in an email. I explained our situation to Kathleen McShane from The Cradle the Case Manager involved with Sofia and told her about how we had all our paper work done and we had an approved home study and we where good to go! She was so happy to hear from us and immediately sent us an email back with a picture of Sofia!!!!!!!!!! I didn’t know it was possible to fall in love with her just thru one beautiful picture but we did! Marc and I cried together when we saw her and we knew we had to make her our daughter! Then not 10 minutes later, I got another email back from the agency letting me know, that unfortunately our home study was a private home study and not a 501 3 c not for profit home study and basically they told us best of luck in your search for a child, but Sofia wasn’t going to be our child. I immediately called the social worker and told her we would get the right home study! She again turned me down and said that this was a time sensitive situation and we couldn’t possibly get what we needed done in time, and she again said best of luck but no Sofia isn’t the right one for u!!!! Oh no, I couldn’t have that! So we contacted a not for profit agency, called in a favor and had the social worker at our home on Memorial Day!!!!! We were getting our home study that the social worker said we didn’t have time to get!!!!!! Hurray! So we were thinking, ok this is one hurdle we jumped over and now we can move forward and at least finally have the agency look over our profile. But…. I guess there was over 200 emails that flooded in with people wanting to adopt Sofia and a lot of them did not have the proper paper work. So I guess I could understand when the social worker still didn’t believe me when I was able to hand her the proper home study!!!! And guess what?!?!?! She was finally going to let us get to the next step! So, I basically lived at office max for a solid week fine tuning our profile and sending it overnight shipping to the agency so they could present us to the special needs board so they could decide if we would be suitable parents to this amazing baby girl. This was the Wednesday after Memorial Day. On Thursday we faced another giant hurdle. We didn’t have FBI clearance!!!!!!!!!! Here is the thing– in our state ( ny) we didn’t need that clearance to adopt! So , I got on the phone and called the FBI personally to see how we would go about getting our prints done in ink and see if they could expedite them and send the results to the agency. Piece of cake, right???? No way!!!!! We went downtown to get them done in ink( no one does ink any more we quickly found out) and met this terribly mean man that would do them but he turned us away cause we didn’t have the right forms! Another hurdle! Marc and I were in tears! We would not lose her because of this. So we called the police officer in charge of this little mean man , and he personally called the FBI right then and there, and was able to find the right forms and get permission to let us take our prints with us so we could over night ship those out too! Another hurdle– the mean little man was actually legally blind!!!! But we were told he still knew what he was Doing and no worries cause we finally were getting them done! Oh no! Another hurdle– my hands were to dry! My finger prints would not be good enough to get a good print! I had him redo them three times and I ended up just taking them all and sending them all in with the hope that at least one would work. My husbands were perfect of course!!! That hurdle was at least part way jumped over. Now, the FBI told us they could expedite them in 5-7 days! I then called the agency to let them know. Oh boy! That wasn’t fast enough:(( but, by some miracle our social worker was able to convince the board to at least consider us! We were an absolute wreck by then. And my husband and I sobbed in each others arms . This was all on Thursday. Then, Friday they let us know the board was meeting and they decided that despite the fact that our prints werent in yet, they would still present us to the board! the socialworker was presenting 3 families to the special needs board for approval! All we had to get thru now was the wait till Friday when the board decided. We got the call around six pm Friday that yes, we were approved to be presented to the birth parents. But so was the 2 other families!!!! The profiles were handed over to them at 6 pm that evening. We where told that this would be a looooong weekend because the birth parents wanted to take there time choosing the right family. So , we went to bed and woke up Saturday morning with a sense of dread! We thought, how the heck can we get thru this awful wait. The minutes were ticking away but each minute felt like an hour. Move forward to about 10 am Saturday….. I got the call! The social worker called. And guess what she said?!? She said ” tammi- have u ever been to Chicago??????? And my husband and I started screaming and crying ! She was telling us that yes! The birth family chose us! Our dreams where coming true!!!!! When I tell u it was one of the most amazing moments of my life, that putting it mildly! We had to pack and buy baby stuff and meet with our attorney all in 3 days so we could be on our way to Illinois! Now, even tho they chose us, we still had to meet them in person for a match meeting! Holy cow we were soooooo nervous. We arrived at the agency on Wednesday to meet them. Sofia’s birth mom came in the room, and let me tell you she was sobbing! I immediately took her in my arms and we cried together. We then sat down and had the best conversation ever! One question we had to ask them was ” what was the reason u chose us to be Sofia’s parents??” Do you know what her birth father said— he said he opened our profile up and looked at our pictures and he knew, he just knew us somehow. He said he never met us, but knew us! Like he just knew that we were meant to be her parents. Of course we las just sat there and cried! Even the 2 social workers cried! We even went to lunch with the birth parents during our break. The break was meant to give the birth family a chance to be alone and make sure they were making the right decision in choosing us for there baby. But they took us out to lunch, came back and signed the papers right away! Sofia was ours officially!!!!!!!! It was the best, most surreal , moment of both my husband and my life. We knew how much they loved Sofia and to this day I have to utmost respect for them. We talk with Sofia’s birth mom at least once a week! We have grown to love her and love that they are a part of our life! Keep in mind- this whole process happened in one short week!
5/ How has Sofia changed your life?
Sofia has changed our life tremendously! We can’t imagine our life without her! Marc and I have grown to love each other even more after going thru what we have to make her ours! She is the most amazing little person and even strengthened my relationship with my dad! Before Sofia, my dad and I had not spoke to each other in months! And because of our precious Sofia, he and I are closer than ever. Marc is such an amazing dad and having Sofia in our lives has added so much joy. She enriches our life in so many ways . Every day holds a new accomplishment from her. We wake up to see her amazing smile and our days are filled with wonder, amusement and endless fun! We are so blessed! We look at life so different now.
Don’t get me wrong, we think about the challenges that face us. And sometimes it’s scary. Very scary. But we look in our baby’s eyes and see so much possibility. We treasure every moment of every day now. Before Sofia, we just didn’t appreciate the small things that made each day great!
6/ What would you tell other parents who are considering adoption of a child with a disability?
We would tell any parent considering a child with a disability that yes, it’s scary! And yes, there will be challenges and hurdles along the way! But oh my gosh we simply are amazed at the joy our daughter brings us each day. Each new little accomplishment is amazing and so rewarding. It takes a special person to parent a differently abled child! And please believe me when I say it’s so worth every moment.
Kathleen McShane handles all the special needs adoptions at The Cradle. She is an amazing advocate for our children and The Cradle remains a non-forproft organization that has never turned down a birth family for a diagnosis.
I am inspired by this story…..once again the community that holds beautiful children just like Sofia helps, advocates and steps up. Isn’t it beautiful when it happens. Lets do it again. Lets write a beautiful ending for the story of Baby A who again is right here in Chicago. The same place baby Sofia was and so desperately needs help finding her Mama. Baby A happens to have Prader-Willi Syndrome and the agency would love to consider a family who is familiar with this Syndrome. So please if you are interested in this sweet baby girl contact me at email@example.com and I will respond immediately with the contact numbers for the social worker.
Because of Sofia and her parents I have decided that I would like to dedicate Friday blogs to not only amazing people but to partner my blog with The National Down Syndrome Adoption Network and share children who are in need of a forever home. There is a soft spot in my heart for children who rock that extra chromosome. My daughter opened my eyes to the beauty that extra chromosome brings and I go to bed each night praying for ways God can use me to advocate for a more accepting world. It is important to me, important to my family and so very important to the Down Syndrome Community. Today is the first of many children I will introduce you too. These children need families to call their own. They need Moms and Dads, brothers and sisters, cousins and grandparents. They need them and they deserve them. These children are right here in the United States of America and they are waiting, hoping and wishing that their Mama is going to show up like Tammi did for Sofia……so please….open your heart and your mind and share these children. Click the button on the top of this post and SHARE…..make sure your friends and neighbors know that these 2 children right here in this post need families and they needed them yesterday. Miracles happen…..you just read about one.
Noah, born November 1997 is a sweet boy who loves to smile and listen to music. He enjoys playing with toys on his own and loves interacting with adults. He enjoys listening to music at school and in the car. He loves his bean bag chair and his stuffed animals. On any given day you will see him in that chair holding one of his animals, hugging it.
He understands simple communications, can dress himself and put his shoes on the correct feet. He can also feed himself. He is attending school with specific IEP services to address areas of need.
Noah does not do well with animals or young children. He does not understand boundaries with either of them and tends to be too rough when he is trying to show affection and play. Noah needs an advocate for services as well as a caregiver invested in helping him learn and progress. He would greatly benefit from some invested time in learning to sign for communication.
Noah is diagnosed Down Syndrome and displays behavioral challenges common with this genetic disposition. He is non verbal at this time. He has recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and kidney disease in a moderate stage. At this point no medications are being used for his kidneys. He does take medication for his thyroid, reflux and mood. He is currently residing in a group setting.
We all know Noah we thrive once he feels safe and he is loved. We see it all the time….when children are taken out of orphanages and group homes and brought home they change. When their light is encouraged it shines ever so brightly. Noah needs our help and this November I am dedicating my time to help him. I will be contacting everyone I know to share his story along with Baby A. The deserve a forever family and I will do what ever I can to help them find that perfect one…… made just for them.
Will you help me?
PS I will be giving regular updates on both of these children at 5 boys + 1 girl = 6 on Facebook. Feel free to like the page to receive the updates….Happy Weekend