My Mother did this amazing thing when I was a child...she told me that I was meant to do something great!
It was simple, and somehow not filled with pressure, just a statement made in the midst of hugs and kisses. When this is what you are told everyday of your young life, you live your life the way you want, but at the same time, there is a constant voice saying, "Is this it? Is this the great thing?"
When I graduated from college, the first in my family, I thought, "Is this it?" ...No, I can do better than this.
When I worked for corporate America in a worldwide management position in my early 20's I thought, "Is this it?" ...It felt good, but, it just didn't feel like "it."
When I moved back to my hometown area to be there for my family I thought, "Is this it?" ...mmm, closer, somethings starting to feel like the right path.
When I met and FINALLY dated and married a good guy (kissed a lot of frogs) I thought, "Is this it?" ...now we're getting somewhere.
When I was pregnant with my first child I thought, "Oh yes, this is it!" Then, she was born with Down Syndrome and 3 holes in her heart, and even though I had grown-up with a sister with physical disabilities, I REALLY found my eyes were opened to the world of special needs and I found my passion. I thought, "This HAS to be it!" ...getting warmer.
When our second daughter was born and I watched my two beautiful girls push each other through the developmental checklist and I found my 2 year old really caring for, loving and pushing her 3 year old sister to reach every milestone right along side her, sometimes even ahead of track, I thought, ""oooohhhh, if this isn't it, I don't know what is!" ...wait for it...
When I took the local Area Director of Special Olympics Illinois position and I worked tirelessly to show our community all our athletes CAN do and not what they can't, and I thought, "What do ya think, Mom, this is it, right? I'm there, right?" ...she sort of went, "enh, maybe!?"
THEN, I saw this little girl, this little girl who looked like my girls. She could have been one of my girls. Her Daddy's serious forehead and blonde hair. Her little sister's chubby cheeks and dimples. Her big sister's beautiful almond eyes. That was the moment I knew. No question. No fear. THIS was it! So it begins...
...just months ago my husband and I were looking through the site, ReecesRainbow.org, a site shared with us by friends when our oldest daughter was born with Down Syndrome. We had talked about adoptiong or fostering someday, ever since we met, really. Then, after our oldest daughter's diagnosis and rough start, we thought, okay, so we'll adopt a child with special needs...someday. Three and a half years flew, and suddenly, the time was here, whether we liked it or not!! You see, I'll be honest, it wasn't the right time financially, or as far as "time" goes, the RIGHT time, at all. But, while attending the National Down Syndrome Congress Conference in Washington D.C. this summer we both got really excited when we saw an open forum on adoption was set for the third day. We really went into that session thinking we'd learn about the process and ultimately do a fundraiser for them this year, to help get some kiddos home. Then, in looking at the site to find fundraising ideas and to think about exactly how we were going to do this, I saw my daughter. MY daughter. I tried to ignore it...for weeks. Then, I started dreaming about her. A lot. In fact, it was making me sort of crazy. I kept dreaming about her and sometimes she was there with me and my oldest daughter was there in that picture in that orphanage. It was making me ill. I was thinking about how easily that little girl could have been my oldest. If my oldest had been born there, that would be my girl, my RayLee. And then, I thought, that IS my girl. So, I finally fessed up to Chris and he was feeling it, too...
So starts the jouney
Fast forward a million questions, emails, phone calls and forms later and we are in the midst of adopting a beautiul little girl from Russia with Down Syndrome. This little girl is in an orphanage purely because she dared to be born with Down Syndrome...a throw away child...one of the forgotten...the not important. At the age of four she will be moved to an institution, essentially an asylum...a Eastern European asylum. A beautiful four year old with Down Syndrome shut away in conditions that we often see in movies based on our worst nightmares. My logical side says, "how can we do this?" My heart and soul says, "how can we not?"
The first picture we saw of this beauty was so serious, so beautiful, so forlorn, so sad. We said yes, and suddenly the picture was changed, and we have this smiling, chubby cheeked picture of a little cutie in a swing with a smile on her whole face and into her eyes. Coincidence? I think not!
This week we started into the homestudy and the glorious home study paperwork. Let me just say that by the time its all said and done they will know the color of my...eyes...right down to the size of my...shoes...it's in-depth, kids, don't you doubt it! :)
This evening my family attended a small Mass for a Bible study group with Br. Ed and I was reminded of how much I love Mass, but that at the end of the day, my oldest daughter, RayLee, she is the one who saved my soul. She reminded me what is important, and that is proof that God sends us our children to remember, to learn, to grow just as we help them learn and grow. Then, we left to go over to Quarter Madness to see our friends, Gerilynn and Renee, in action as they shared news that will help take us one step closer to making this happen and I realized that while we can't do this alone, and while I am so afraid of how we are ultimately going to make it happen, we dont' have to do it alone...we have an amazing community, amazing friends and an amazing God. We will do this. It may be one quarter at a time. It may mean selling off every single exta little item I have in my home. Heck, it may mean selling Grandma's table that means so much to me, but not as much as the life of a child.
We will do this. And then, when she's home, we'll help someone else do it. Why? Because, if not me(us), then who? If not now, then when?
Sneak peek: next time I'll overshare just what homestudy questionaires are really like...they really want TMI!!! (beware old boyfriends, I was compelled to share all my dirty laundry!) :)