On Adopting a Kid With Down Syndrome

We first met our son in a drab, nondescript office building that housed the administrative offices of the family services organization his foster mother was employed by. We stood in the lobby surrounded by our adoption worker from the state, his guardian ad litem and a foster care supervisor. A very pleasant looking woman walked in carrying a very small boy whom we already considered our son. We didn’t get to melt into that moment though. We were immediately ushered into a conference room. The meeting was mostly about why we would want to do that. It is difficult to explain to a group of hard-bitten types, “We just know he’s the one,” which was the truth.

State adoptions get tricky. You have to agree to take your child — the one you already love — in as a foster child that you hope to adopt. The tricky part is it might all go to shit. The biological parents who lost custody of their children due to abuse and neglect have a higher standing over you. Our son’s foster mother told us, “You have to try to pull back in your feelings. Protect yourself in case you lose him.”

I tried that for about three hours and came to realize I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl. We were in the deep end of the pool. Parenting in those months was about keeping our kid. Needless to say, we didn’t get to “Down syndrome” until we knew this kid of ours wasn’t going anywhere. Not losing him was our singular focus.

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