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Our Adopion Story, by Elizabeth M. Fennelly

Our Adoption Story by Elizabeth M. Fennelly

Our decision to pursue adoption was either more or less complicated than normal depending on how you look at it.

We didn’t end up at adoption as a result of fertility issues; we started at adoption.  Actually, our Kiddo is a 3rd generation adoptee, so, really it's a family tradition.  For us, adoption has always been a natural process for creating a family.  We never grieved the loss of our “perfect” child, the one that looked like us and shared our bizarre compilation of genes.  No, as one of my favourite adoption quotes says: “Our children are not ours because they share our genes ... they are ours because we have the audacity to envision them. That, at the end of the day ... or long sleepless night, is how love really works.”

There are a couple of things that led us to public domestic adoption.  First of all, we’re not infant people.  Not that we don’t like little babies and watching them grow into people, but kids are awesome once they hit an age where they disagree with you and have distinctive personalities.  There's nothing quite so exciting as when a child's will kicks in and you start seeing a temper or sassiness.  However, in terms of the type of adoption we chose, it chose us more than anything else.  We initially started down the international adoption path, but a variety of issues in the program that we were looking at left us facing years and years of waiting.  What you learn quickly as a potential adoptive parent is that reassessment is a constant.  Our adoption “goal” when we signed up for PRIDE courses and picked our social worker (we had our home study prepared by a private practitioner) is the exact opposite of our actual adoption.  While some people might think our complete 180 was because we were just desperate, it’s actually the result of constant learning and honest self-assessment.  We are resourceful, strong, competent adults, but we always remember that we've got a ton to learn and that even the best-laid plan changes over time.  We didn’t end up with a special-needs kid because that’s the best we could do, we ended up with the best kid in the world, who happens to have some special needs.  As for us, we’re committed to being the best parents for him. We’re not the parents of a sympathy story, we’re excited participants in what’s going to be the story of an inspirational kid, an awesome teenager, and an amazing adult.

We started out wanting a “simple” adoption: one that came without extra family ties; we wanted an adoption that wasn’t complicated by medical issues.  We were looking for an adoption that would still leave us kind of resembling the all-American family, living the all-American dream.  These days, you couldn’t offer me anything that would make me consider going back to my previous family dream.  Why?  Because that life wouldn’t fit this child that I love more than I dreamed was possible.  For us, the best example of how we changed from our “dream” adoption to actually adopting the child that wanted us and encourages us to “be all you can be!” was when we realized that how much we wanted and needed his foster family to be a permanent part of his life. We realized that, while we’d been afraid of adopting a child with a history, in reality, no child is lacking a history, it’s just that some histories end up being swept under the rug.  Our son is who he is because of his history and we're delighted that he chose us to be part of his future.  

Our son tends to be categorized as fairly time-consuming in terms of special-needs, but I never see him as a special-needs child.  When I pick him up from school, the sight of his little face lighting up when he sees me, the Mommy's that there just for him, is worth all the extra time we spend in medical appointments.  Watching him work so hard in his

therapy sessions, looking up to see if I'm paying attention to how well he's doing, is more fulfilling than anything I've ever known.  Sure, there are days when I'm so tired that a Tim Horton's drive-through is the greatest innovation since the light bulb, but, even in the throes of exhaustion, I've got the smile muscles working 110%!  (He's also the reason that I can't get through even Disney movies without grabbing for Kleenex.  Nobody warned me about that, but I'd recommend everyone buy Kleenex stock because I'm keeping that company in business these days.) This feisty, giggly, tracker of more mud and grass into the house than I thought we had in the backyard, is more than just my son, he's how I define myself: I'm Shawn's Mom.