National Adoption Month

A Baby With Down Syndrome Found An Amazing Forever Home After His Foster Parents Adopted Him

"After the journey to find the NICU ward, we were introduced to this little peanut of a baby named Raymond ... "

After being married twelve years, we had two healthy, happy boys and were living a very blessed life. Adopting a child or expanding our family were not goals, but, as fate would have it, we became aware of a baby girl whose parents were going through a series of struggles. We could not bear to see this beautiful baby go into the foster care system, so we agreed to take her into our home.

The situation with her family only lasted six weeks before she could return home. However, after she left our home, it awakened a void in us that was very difficult to overcome. Eventually, this void led us to become a licensed foster family to provide a home full of love for children who needed extra help.

While we made this journey to become licensed foster parents, another little soul was making a journey of a different kind at roughly the same time. His mom had many demons she had battled throughout her life. As she traveled her troubled path, obstacles kept her from being the best mom she could be. She entered a hospital and gave birth to a five-pound baby boy four weeks before her due date. And to add yet one more challenge to her already complicated life, he had Down syndrome.

Our paths crossed one Tuesday morning when my wife Michelle was out shopping, and she received a call from our foster placement worker. Melissa asked if we were ready for our first placement. She said she had a Native American newborn boy with Down syndrome who needed an emergency placement for two to three weeks. Michelle wrote down all the details, hung up, and called me to see if I agreed that we could help him. While we had discussed Down syndrome and how to be prepared for it when pregnant with our biological children, we did not receive special needs training in our foster parent classes. Nonetheless, we felt we could meet this challenge until an adoptive family was found for him. At 10:30 a.m., Michelle called Melissa back to let her know we would love to take him into our home. Melissa gave her the final details, including the fact that he was being discharged at 1:00 p.,m., and we would need to pick him up at the hospital. That gave us two and a half hours to prepare for what had taken nine months to do the last time! Michelle made a quick U-turn from the checkout line and went back to the baby department to load up on all the necessary supplies.

Giving birth to your own child at the hospital and taking him or her home is an amazing experience; going to the hospital to pick up another infant to bring home is surreal. After the journey to find the NICU ward, we were introduced to this little peanut of a baby named Raymond who weighed barely five pounds, and had jet black hair and the face of an angel. The discharge process seemed to drag on and on, and after ninety minutes of waiting, we finally asked the nurse what else we needed to do to be on our way. She curtly stated, "I will let you take my baby when I am ready." We discovered that she had cared for him for three straight days and had formed a deep bond. Already we could see that this baby touched people's lives and hearts at barely five days old.

The next three weeks stretched into months as the state worked through various processes and steps to get Raymond legally prepared for adoption. We did not mind at all. Our entire family adored Raymond from the day he came home with us. As he grew older and became more aware of his surroundings, we noticed that he had a gift. He could sense when people needed special attention. A visit to the grocery store with him in the cart would not go by without at least one or two random hugs for a cashier or other customer. They almost always responded, "I needed a hug today," and frequently teared up. Raymond was a little window into heaven for many people everywhere we went.

The three-week placement turned into seven months before we finally got a call from a new social worker in charge of getting Raymond adopted. After brief introductions, she didn't even ask anything about Raymond, but questioned, "So what is wrong with this baby, anyway?"

Our family had worked really hard to keep some distance in our relationship with Raymond. We knew he would have to leave and we wanted to minimize our heartbreak. But this type of question seemed uncalled for, and Michelle did not mince any words: "Raymond is perfect, just as God made him!" After Michelle's response, the social worker paused and asked in the kindest voice, "Then why aren't you adopting him?"

I have worked with a lot of good salespeople and sales trainers in my profession, and this was the best sales technique I had ever seen. We had not thought of adoption as an option. We were foster parents; we were taught not to think that way. Our mantra since Raymond had come to live with us was, "God placed him with us for a little while until the right family who needed him was identified."

As it turned out, we needed him.

Michelle and I talked and quickly made a life-changing decision with long-term ramifications for our family. We looked at each other and both realized that our hearts had already made the decision long before it was asked of us today. He was ours. It may have taken this phone call to wake us up to the fact, but the outcome was obvious. He was and had been our little boy all along, and nothing else mattered.

That night at dinner, Michelle and I were so excited to tell our two boys about our decision. When we finally just blurted it out, expecting them to be as excited as we were, their response was, "Well, duh, we already knew that. It just took you two longer to figure it out!"

On National Adoption Day 2003, Raymond became a permanent part of our family. We celebrated with almost a hundred people who had supported us through this entire process. Raymond was dressed in a tuxedo and hugged and hammed it up all day long.

And everyone who came will tell you that at some level Raymond has shown them a window into heaven.

This story is from Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Adoption: 101 Stories about Forever Families and Meant-to-Be Kids  © 2007 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved.

Cover image via Kasefoto I Shutterstock 

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