A Modern Day Miracle: An Adoption Story

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Sometimes, even today, miracles happen. I don't mean the spectacular miracles, I mean the quiet ones - the miracles that happen when just the right things happen at just the right time to just the right people, and in the end, just the right thing happens. That kind of miracle happened right in front of me recently.

I was home one afternoon when I received a call from one of our readers in the Chicago area. She had gotten a call out of the blue from an adoptive placement agency in her area. Then had a newborn child to place, and he had been born with a cleft. Since our reader was an adult born with a cleft and a leader in cleft-related issues in her area, they thought to contact her. Perhaps she might know someone who would want to adopt this child.

Normally, a newborn child is not difficult to place in an adoptive home. For every healthy newborn infant available for adoption there are literally dozens upon dozens of couples who would jump at the chance to be that child's parents. The cleft made the prospects a bit more difficult. The overwhelming majority of couples waiting for a newborn to adopt are typically waiting for a "normal healthy" newborn - meaning, one that will not require surgeries to correct a birth defect.

Still, with so many prospective parents out there and so few available children, many couples are willing to consider a child with a correctable birth defect. But there was one more factor that figured into this little boy's situation that made his placement into a permanent, loving family nearly impossible. This child was black.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult for a child of color to be placed in a home of European ancestry. Right or wrong, it is not my intention to discuss the prevailing philosophy in this article. Suffice it to say, the philosophy is in place and black children are seldom placed in non-black homes. And yet, with the majority of available children being children from minority backgrounds, couples of color can quite nearly "write their own ticket" concerning any child they choose to adopt. And, like anyone else, these families would prefer to adopt the "normal, healthy" child. Clefts are fairly rare among persons of African ancestry, and so the placement of this tiny child seemed nearly impossible.

Thus, his placement agency contacted our reader. Our reader has a tremendous storehouse of experience concerning cleft-related issues, but she has almost no experience at all concerning adoptions. However, she knew that I do. After all, I am the adoptive mother of three cleft-affected children. And so, she decided to call me.

While I did adopt my own children, and I can certainly offer advice to families who are considering the adoption of a cleft-affected child, I have never been involved in the placement of any child but my own. When my reader called my I was certainly concerned for the child and I talked for some time with her, but I truly did not feel I could offer much. When we ended the phone conversation I simply told her that I would keep my ears open for a family, but I couldn't promise anything. As I hung up the phone I sadly told my husband, "I wish I knew how to help him."

And then the miracle happened. The next day I answered the phone again. This time it was another reader who called to express her thrill that her daughter's photo had placed as Honorable Mention in our recent Beautiful Smiles Photo Contest. This mother's child was Hannah (featured in the Spring, 1995 issue of WIDE SMILES). Hannah was of African American ancestry and had been born with a cleft. As I talked with Sherri about her beautiful daughter, she mentioned that someday she and her husband would like to adopt again, and they hoped that they could adopt another African American child with a = cleft. I was amazed at the comment. African American with cleft is a rare enough combination. African American with cleft, available for adoption is an impossible dream. And yet, I knew of just the child! =

I asked Sherri how soon they would consider adopting again. She said she didn't know. I asked, "How about right away?" I told her about the little boy I had learned of the day before. At first she said it would be too soon, but before long she asked me to call the child's social worker to tell them that they are interested. I made that call. The social worker asked me if I could call the Pharos and ask that their local social worker call her. When I called Sherri back, she was on the phone with her social worker already.

To make a long story short, in a matter of only a few days the Pharos had met the child and the birth mother and the plans were put into motion to make the Hannah Pharo a big sister! And in record time, she was. Who would have guessed that a person from California would lead a mother from Wisconsin to find her son in Illinois, when none of the above even knew each other!

Thanks to the insight of our Chicago reader, and to the coincidental timing of two telephone conversations, a little boy who once had no family, now has a father, a mother, and a loving sister. Was it luck? Maybe. Was it fate? Possibly. Was it a miracle? You bet!
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