I first approached my husband about adopting not long after we were first together. I asked him if he’d ever want to adopt a child and in true easy-going Randy style he said, “yeah, sure.” I remember dreaming of adopting a child when I was younger, it was one of those things I am certain that I was called to do.
Hubbalicious and I met when we were both 21 years old. We were working together at Red Lobster and began hanging out socially. We started dating two years later in 2000 and were married in 2002. That same year we were married we had our first pregnancy which ended in mis-carriage. Five years later we still had not managed a second pregnancy but we were both finally college graduates and beginning our careers as respiratory therapists.
It was in my last semester of school that I was assigned my clinical rotations at a children’s sub acute hospital. At the time, the facility held just over 50 kids, all ventilator dependent. Nearly all of the children there were not alert, a few had nearly drowned, others had neurological damage requiring constant care that many families simply could not provide at home.
To say I was resistant to do my “time” at this hospital was an understatement. I threw a fit, I demanded to be returned to the initial hospital I’d been assigned to. The clinical adviser refused. With all other options denied, I showed up to this facility at 6am on a Tuesday morning in February 2007 with a bad attitude. I didn’t want to work around a bunch brain-dead kids on ventilators.
What I found at this hospital was life changing. Two kids in particular – a little boy named Joseph and a little girl named Lacy- were both alert, alive, and seemingly had no business in this facility. Joseph had a family that arrived daily to love him and play with him. As it turns out, they were working fastidiously, learning how to care for him at home. The second child, Lacy, was not so lucky. Her biological mother had a very clear drug problem and could only manage to visit Lacy a few times a year. Lacy spent holidays alone, birthdays alone, and nights alone.
My first interaction with Lacy was in the hallway in her facility. This little girl, clothed in mis-matched, ill-fitting, second-hand clothing provided out of the kindness of the nurses that worked with her, walked past me. I turned to my instructor and hissed, “what is SHE doing in a place like THIS?” I was informed that her mother was unable and unwilling to care for her properly, and the county was beginning to look for a more permanent place to home Lacy. I was also told that Lacy most likely had an airway problem, and once it was repaired she’d be perfectly normal. I rushed home that afternoon and asked my husband what he thought about adopting a little girl who needed a home… and he agreed.
I quickly found my way into the good graces of her social worker, and we were given written permission from the county children’s services to spend time with Lacy. The letter clearly stipulated that we were not allowed to intrude on any time Lacy spent with her biological mother. As it turns out, in the six months we spent making daily visits to Lacy, her mother only arrived once and stuck around just under 15 minutes. I was working full time as a respiratory therapist as the same time finishing my degree as an advanced respiratory care practitioner. Most days were spent in class from 8am – 3pm, working from 6pm – 6am, and Randy and I brought Lacy dinner and played with her every day from 4pm-6pm. Looking back, I have no idea how I managed this schedule for so long.
After six months of visiting Lacy, we were finally allowed to begin the process of taking Lacy home. Lacy was to be discharged from the sub-acute hospital to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital and from there she would be discharged home to us. We were given very little information, we just showed up and took it from moment to moment.
We spent our first 10 days sitting in a hospital room waiting for the discharge papers and the home ventilator equipment to be delivered. In addition, a sample of her blood was sent to Rush University to test for a disease called Congenital Central Hypoventialtion Syndrome.
Two weeks after arriving home we received confirmation of her genetic test for CCHS. Lacy did indeed have CCHS. Having spent a some time in the internet I had a loose idea of what we were dealing with. I knew that these kids had a fantastic life expectancy, many eventually had the tracheostomy reversed, but they needed to be on life support for the rest of their lives. Lacy was not going to outgrow CCHS.
I remember the moment I realized what we were officially dealing with. I remember standing in our kitchen, tears rolling down my cheeks, blubbering to my husband about how we’d never be able to take her to Vegas on her 21st birthday because CCHS kids can’t drink! It’s makes me chuckle now how pathetic that was, even more I remember my husband’s response, “Babe, shes TWO YEARS OLD… I don’t think we need to worry about that just yet. I’m pretty sure they won’t be serving vodka shooters to her in preschool!”
According to the county children’s services, we were considered “non-relative-family-members” because of all of the time we’d spent with her at the facility. Her biological mother still had legal rights to Lacy, but we were her primary caretakers. Over the next few months we’d endure multiple trail dates as the county began to remove rights from her mom.
There is a definite brotherhood among fellow adoptive parents, they understand the tremendous fear associated with these court dates, they understand the ugly underbelly of adoption. Among this group I discovered that I didn’t have to give them all of the dirty details, because they just understood. They had been there too. It’s a theme I’d find repeated over and over again through my adoption experience. I can do my best to explain all of the emotions, fears, frustration of adoption to my “traditional” friends, but nothing will ever compare to the knowing nod of understanding given by those in the trenches alongside me. For those friends, I will be eternally thankful.
Once Lacy arrived home, our family of three never looked back. Hubbs and I were both working -scheduling ourselves on the nights the other person was off, and Lacy was enjoying the spoils of two well-employed parents. We spent many days at Disneyland, weekends at Coronado Island, and piles of cash giving our sweet Lacy anything she wanted. Ironically, it was Lacy who gave us everything.
In the years prior to Lacy’s arrival my family had slowly become disjointed. My brother lived on the east coast, my sister was pursuing a doctoral degree in the mid-west, and my parents were quietly living a life without any kids at home or grand-kids to enjoy. At the same time, Randy’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Lacy’s arrival was probably the biggest catalyst among the dynamics of our family. She brought my parents back to life. She brought evident joy back into their lives. Lacy gave my mother-in-law somebody to love and care for after a long fight with cancer and the eventual passing of my father-in-law. Lacy gave my husband a purpose, and he stepped up to became the most amazing father any child could have. For me, Lacy made me a mom. She’s taught me how to be selfless, how to think outside of the box, and most importantly she’s changed me for the better.
adoption day 2009
adoption day 2010
adoption day 2011
adoption day 2012