10/19/2011 8:54 AM
By Lorelei Hill
I have concrete evidence it exists.
In the spring of 2003, my husband Mike and I spent a weekend mulling over the pros and cons of perusing the adoption of a little boy we saw profiled in the “Book of Waiting Children.” As property of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS), this book contains literally hundreds of photographs and stories of children hoping for a parent to come along and love them.
Struck by the size of the large grey binder, my heart ached when the receptionist handed it to me. On my first flip through, I saw a picture of a small boy and gasped, “He's beautiful!”
It truly was love at first sight! Something in those big blue eyes told me that I was looking at my son. Bigger than an “Oh, he's the cutest, I'll take that one!” reaction, the longing I had in my heart for a child lifted the moment I saw his photograph. From somewhere deep inside, I just knew. But there were problems. Oh, so many problems.
His profile read like a rap sheet. Addict parents, toxins at birth, tetralogy of Fallot, a nasogastric (NG) tube, developmental delays. My heart sank as the list went on.
Mike and I met with doctors, our team at OACAS, and I even called his childcare worker—a definite no-no in adoption circles. In the end, we knew what we felt in our hearts. Our son was waiting for us. How could we not go get him?
Over the course of the next two weeks, much to the chagrin of my social worker, I pleaded our case nine more times! I didn't care, he was our baby. Little did I know that was the start of my advocating on behalf of both my babies.
Two weeks later, we drove three hours to our first meeting with the foster grandma. We also met Katie, who at 4 months, was a healthy-looking infant with huge lilac eyes. Like her brother, she dazzled me. Mike and I learned to feed Riley via the NG tube, but shoving that tube down Riley’s throat proved to be something neither one of us was prepared to do. Riley’s many medications and his equally full medical care home schedule would soon be part of our routine. With a "minor" ventricular septal defect, Katie's health seemed of little worry. “Though,” we were told, “her temperament is questionable.”
Once in our home, we worked with doctors to keep Riley’s NG tube out permanently. This was a bad decision, according to his OACAS doctors in the city, and one that would keep Katie in foster care an additional six weeks. During that time, teaching a 15-month-old baby how to eat and drink became our greatest challenge! Still, I wouldn’t rest until Katie was home as well.
After many more phone calls to OACAS, our baby girl was also released into our care. While she showed little sign of having a heart condition, breathing issues and migraine-type headaches led us to alternative medical care over doctors who tended to lean towards pharmaceutical problem solvers rather than natural ones. It was soon discovered that she had a floppy larynx (not asthma), and was allergic to milk solids, the only real ingredient found in formula and pabulum. No wonder she was cranky!
Today, my two little heart babies are doing great. At eight and nine years old, they argue, they complain, and run and play. While painful hospital visits are always extremely difficult for all of us to endure, my greatest challenge is getting them to go to bed each night!
They know they are adopted, but believe Mike and I are their natural parents, and they get no argument from us. Mike and I absolutely believe in love at first sight, and know through and through our children do too.
Hello from Ontario, Canada! Lorelei Hill is a mother of two CHD babies, wife, writer/teacher, and a survivor of tricuspid atresia. After graduating with honors from Queen’s University in Kingston, Lorelei went on to teach and travel the world. Now settled into small town life, she is working with other CHD patients and her own cardiac specialists to complete a self-help book for young CHD families. Click here to visit her website.