In July of 2016, our family decided to begin the process of adopting. We announced to the world that we were “Making Room for a Sister!” and our friends and family were thrilled. However, the hope of adding a girl to the family began nearly 10 years prior. God had placed a specific desire into my, Maile’s, heart and my husband and I had spoken about her, our “Hannah”, openly for all those years.
We had heard about the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network back in 2011. A friend of mine had been matched by using the NDSAN with a child almost immediately and was sharing her story with me at a playdate a mutual friend had hosted. Every family that attended the playdate that day had a child with Down syndrome and I was invited simply because my friend knew my heart. I gained all kinds of knowledge that day and my desire deepened.
In the summer of 2016 we had three boys, two biological and one adopted, and had just said goodbye to our fourth foster baby. My heart was aching to grow our family and we knew the time had come to begin pursuing a private adoption. We all agreed that we were ready to step out in faith and bring home a child with special needs. Our boys were great, our home was thriving, our family was secure, and we were all ready to add some “pink” to our house.
We spent the summer and fall getting all our steps done for our home study and completed all the necessary things to get on the NDSAN registry by November of 2016. Then we began fundraising in hopes of being able to adopt our daughter with no debt. We had garage sales, bake sales, lemonade sales. We had friends sell chocolate covered strawberries at Valentine’s Day, create t-shirts for fundraising, donate products to a silent auction, and give generously in order to provide for the little expenses that come up even before placement. We applied for grants, offered baby sitting services, taught pre-school summer camps in our home, and so on and so forth. The beauty of all these endeavors was that we were sharing our story and our hopes about our future daughter with the world and it made the waiting that much sweeter.
Although we didn’t anticipate waiting so long to get chosen by a birth family, we are thankful that we persevered. Stephanie from the NDSAN was so kind to us and kept us informed every step of the way. We said yes to many babies that were presented to us, but each time another family was chosen. There were days where I doubted that we would ever be chosen. There were days where I wondered why this desire was in my heart and yet nothing I was doing was working out. But then, on January 7, 2019 we got “THE CALL”.
“Hello Maile, this is Stephanie from the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network. How fast can you get to Houston?” Those words will echo in my ears and heart forever more. Within a two hour period I went from being a waiting mom, to being a chosen mom. Our family had been chosen! There was a daughter for us, the daughter we had been speaking about for over a decade. The daughter all our friends and family talked about by name, even though we didn’t even know her. She now really existed and she was waiting for us.
There are so many special details that go along with the next few days of our story, but they can be saved for another time and place. Our family grew that day because of the NDSAN and the services they offer to people with Down syndrome, their families, and hopeful adoptive families. Their motto, “That every child deserves a loving family” is what placed our precious daughter into our arms. We could not be more grateful for their hard work. Stephanie is organized, professional, kind, intelligent, hardworking, and compassionate. She believes in a group of people who many in the world deem unworthy of even life. She believes in family, and she believed in our family.
Hannah is our dream come true. She is a loved and adored daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, and friend. Her birth family, after receiving her diagnosis, was given no good options in the hospital. But thankfully, they got connected with the NDSAN and were able to make a choice that was best for their baby. We are so very thankful for the work that is being done at the NDSAN and will forever be supporters and advocates for them.