As some of you may remember, my wife and I lost our daughter Caroline shortly after birth in 2006. She had Trisomy 18, the fatal form of Down Syndrome. About four months into the pregnancy, we were called into the doctor's office on my wife's birthday and told the news that our daughter would likely not make it to term. We sought and received must support and guidance from many of our friends on this board.
During the last few months of the pregnancy we had numerous friends, family members, and even our doctor try to convince us to terminate the pregnancy. At the time we had a 1 1/2 daughter. We were told to think about her and the economic toll a special needs child would place upon us. It was amazing how willing people were to share their opinions on whether we should have aborted our daughter.
We made the decision to go to term. My wife said it most eloquently when she retorted to a friend, "it's not a political decision, I just want my daughter to live." We were then faced with the difficult decision of having to decide what, if any, life-prolonging support we were going to give her. The birth was by c-section and my wife was going to be sedated, so it all fell on me to carry out our decision. As our priest advised us based upon her medical condition, we decided not to provide any type of support that would interfere with the dignity and sanctity of human life. Our priest would not define that for us, but said that we would know what it was when we saw it.
As my wife was being prepped for surgery, both of our families met in the emergency room to discuss what was going to happen with the doctor. The doctor was surprised when he walked into the room and saw over 25 people sitting there awaiting the birth of a child he wanted us to abort. It had a very profound effect on him seeing the love and pain of the people surrounding the table.
I then walked with the doctor to the operating room. They had me dress in scrubs and wait outside until it was time for me to come in. I held the vial of Holy Water that had been blessed by our priest so that I could baptize her if she was born alive. I sat in the empty, cold hallway clutching the vial and the rosary given to me by my sister. For the first time in my life, I felt that I had been given a challenge that I could not overcome. It was likely that my daughter was going to die right in front of me. I dropped to my knees and prayed to God that he give me the strength and courage to do what was best.
The doctor called me into the operating room and I held my wife's hand as they performed the c-section. Our doctor warned us that Caroline would have severe swelling on the brain and severe spina bifida. We warned us that her looks might be frightening and that we should be prepared.
She was born alive. The nurse rushed her around the table to me so that I could baptize her before she left us. I was frozen for a second as I was captivated by her beauty. She was perfect, just absolutely perfect. I fumbled the vial from my pocket and rubbed holy water on her with my thumb as I baptized her in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. She looked at me with her eyes blinking. Her mouth was moving slightly as she tried to gasp for air. The nurse held her in one arm with an oxygen mask in her other hand. She just looked at me wondering whether to give Caroline oxygen.
Seeing her struggle for breath, I barely nodded my head in the affirmative. The nurse slowing began moving the mask towards her mouth before I gently grabbed her arm. The priest was right, I knew what to do. I just looked at the nurse and lowered my head. She pulled the mask away and handed me my daughter. I laid her on my wife's chest and despite being under the cloud of anesthesia, my wife was able to whisper into Caroline's ear "I love you." We then both watched as the life left her body.
She only lived for seven minutes. I left the operating room and went upstairs to inform our families of the news. They knew what happened as I walked into the room. Not a word was said as we all began to hug and cry. Over the next week, we had complete strangers bringing home cooked meals to our house. Our priest, our doctor, family and numerous friends came by to tell us that they simply didn't understand the gravity of what happened until they saw Caroline. She changed many lives. In seven simple minutes, little Caroline changed people's lives. It was an amazing experience.
My wife and I went through the normal mourning process. We still wanted a larger family, so we tried to have another child. Pregnancies failed. We pursued in vitro, surrogacy, donor eggs to no avail. After several years of frustration, we turned towards adoption. We were paired with a child in Russia and we flew their to meet him. We were escorted into a Russian orphanage with an armed officer and given 30 minutes to play with the child. We were then told that he had significantly more serious medical conditions than we were led to believe before we left the US. We went to Russia again before deciding that it was simply not right for our family. The pain was severe and now we had to explain it to a little five year girl why she wasn't getting a brother.
Then, several weeks later, a friend called us regarding a little boy whose parents had been arrested for drug use. The parents were going to lose custody and we were asked if we would consider being foster parents. We began babysitting the little boy and started classes to be approved as foster parents. We met with the case workers and were told everything would be fine once we completed the nine week class.
Once the classes were finished, we were called on a Friday and told the little boy would be placed with us on Monday. Therefore, we had better get his room ready. We went out and bought new furniture and clothes. On Monday, we never received a call. Finally, on Wednesday, we finally received a call and were told that the "supervisor" denied the placement because "I was a lawyer and would cause trouble." We were devestated.
My wife kept looking for children to adopt in China, Russia, Colombia, Ethiopia and anywhere else she could look. I had finally had enough. One evening three years ago I walked in on her searching for children. I lost my temper and told her to stop. I told her he had tried everything we could and that we were ignoring the family we had while we chased the family we didn't have.
Luckily, she didn't listen to me. About a week later, I walked in on her again searching for children. She said she wanted me to look at a little special needs boy from Haiti. She read me his bio, which said he was energetic and liked basketball. After Caroline, we had decided that our first adoption should not be special needs. Despite this, she convinced me to let her inquire as to his availability. She received a response the next day that he was available, but that there had been a mistake. He was not special needs and was a completely healthy and happy little boy.
We learned that he was born in Cite Soleil, which is widely considered the poorest place on earth. His father was murdered and his mother could no longer take care of him. We went to visit him and he hated me. He loved my wife, but he hated me. We went back again with our daughter, who was now seven. They bonded immediately and he finally warmed up to me.
Almost two years later, the process progressed very slowly. During this time, I was approached by Senator Reid and others to run for US Senate. I was three days away from announcing I was going to run when I decided that a Senate run could prolong the adoption process and even stop it completely. I bowed out of the Senate run in order to focus on the adoption. I then received a call informing me that Senator Reid still wanted to help me and that he had convinced President Clinton to personally assist us with completing the adoption. Needless to say, President Clinton did get personally involved on our behalf to help get the necessary approvals in Haiti. Once that was done, Senator Rockefeller and his staff have worked tirelessly to help us through the process.
Two days ago we were advised that our son's Visa appointment is scheduled for this Monday. It will take two days to be approved and then we can go bring him home. We have made our reservations and will be leaving in one week to Haiti to bring our son home. A little boy born in the poorest place on Earth had two Senators and a US President fight on his behalf. A little boy who lost his family has found another. A family that lost their daughter has found a son. For those who are down and out, without hope and full of despair, just know that with the Grace of God, your long painful journey will end. Our's ends in eight days. To all of you that prayed for us during this journey, thank you and God Bless.
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