Saturday, January 6, 2018

Our Story

I've been asked to write a bit of our story for a Facebook page/blog.  So, here's the quick and dirty version of finding and adopting Sara.  And an update on how she's doing now since it's been way too long since I've done one of those.  

In 2008, I moved to Mexico to work with kids with special needs.  9 months later, I was suddenly back in Illinois with no idea where my life was headed.  I had a job I loved and some amazing friends.  My life was good but I was looking for more.  I wanted to be a mom.  I started looking into adoption.  Specifically, I was looking into local options for adopting a child with Down syndrome.  As a special education teacher, I always loved my students with Down syndrome and was just drawn to them.  I felt like I was chasing my own tail and quickly became discouraged.  I didn't think that a birth family would ever choose a single mom.  At some point during that time, a friend showed me the Reece's Rainbow website but I dismissed the idea of international adoption without looking into it at all.  

In December 2011, I was spending Christmas break in New York with my family.  My mom called me into the kitchen to watch a news story.  This news story changed my life.  

I returned to Illinois in January and started researching Reece's Rainbow.  I wrote a very vague blog post on January 1st hinting at the future.  I read about the process and the funding options.  I read about single adoption and Down syndrome.  I read profiles of kids and thought about the best options for me.  I sent a Facebook message to all of my favorite single and adoptive moms and closest friends asking them if I was completely crazy.  They told me that I wasn't so I started moving forward.  

I decided that the best fit for me would be a girl, at least 3, with Down syndrome but minimal medical problems in a Latin American country since I speak Spanish.  I thought I had found her but was told that the girl I was interested in had a family coming.  The contact at Reece's Rainbow sent me a picture and a short description of a little girl that hadn't even been posted yet.  

I saw that picture and jumped in with both feet and didn't look back.  My profile went live on Reece's Rainbow in February and I spent the next year working, fund raising, paper chasing, and preparing.  It was a whirlwind.  Half the time I thought this was the best thing I could be doing with my life.  The other half of the time I was in a complete panic.

I flew to Colombia on January 12, 2013 and met Sara on January 14th.  

She was tiny and timid and perfect.  (And she bit me.  A lot.)  She was almost 4 1/2 and in a size 2T.  She knew about 5 words in Spanish but was able to use a lot of gestures and noises to make her needs and wants understood.  She refused to repeat words and seemed to have no interest in speaking any more than she did.

She had a rash on her face and a perpetually green, snotty nose.  The bags under her eyes were huge.  Her hair was thin and wispy and an odd red color.  She was scared of everything.  The dog in the hotel and the fountain at the mall were especially disturbing.  She cowered easily and was scared of anyone who made sudden movements.  

She was goofy and stubborn and fun.  She learned sign language incredibly quickly and started growing immediately.  She grew out of her 2T clothes in the 7 1/2 weeks we were in Colombia.  She was independent, potty trained, and able to dress and feed herself.  She didn't need a mommy but she let me hang around anyway.  

We arrived in the United States on March 7, 2013.  She became America's newest citizen and we really started our lives together.  

In our five years together, she has gone from a tiny, timid toddler to a confident, spunky, hilarious big girl.  She has traveled to more than half of the states, Mexico, and Canada.  She loves to fly and is a great road tripper.  

She loves school and is getting Physical therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech therapy and educational services.  She talks.  All the time.  Constantly.  She repeats everything.  She has a great sense of humor and she loves adventure and new experiences.  

She is adored by her grandparents and all of my friends.  We go to a church that loves and accepts her.  

She takes dance classes with other girls her age.  She plays all kinds of sports with other kids with special needs.  

She's been a flower girl three times. 

We've survived two cataract surgeries and a tonsil removal.  

 She loves her mommy more than anything and I cannot imagine life without her!  

I'd say, she's doing pretty well.  

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