Today is my daughter, Bonnie's, 30th birthday. Many of you know her online as "Princess Bonnie," which she is in every way. She's sunshine blended with a healthy dose of Missouri mule. ;)
After our birth daughter, Barbi, was born on Christmas Eve in 1981, my obstetrician informed us that another pregnancy was "paramount to a death wish." I have this nasty blood-clotting disorder that makes pregnancy very high risk. So we spoiled our beautiful baby for four years, then started looking into adoption.
One thing we knew for certain--we wanted an infant. The other thing we realized after taking a workshop on special needs adoption was that we had absolutely no qualms about bringing a baby with Down Syndrome into our home. So after completing this program and our home study, we went on a waiting list as not only potential, but eager, adoptive parents for a newborn with Down Syndrome. Imagine our surprise when a mere 3 months later, the phone rang to inform us that our wait was at an end.
We lived near Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time, and Bonnie was born in Oklahoma City. The laws at that time would not permit "placement" until she was eleven days old. We stayed in constant contact with the agency. Not only was she born with Down Syndrome, and a little premature, but she also had a heart defect, which isn't uncommon. Because her birth mother didn't have medical insurance, the only test that had been done was an EKG. Our medical insurance would cover Bonnie the moment she came into our family, so I made appointments for her with a pediatric cardiologist and our pediatrician before we even brought her home.
Finally, the day arrived, and the social worker suggested we meet somewhere between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Dave took the day off from work, and the three of us packed the diaper bag, car seat, and blanket I had crocheted for our new baby, and drove to the appointed rendezvous point.
McDonald's, of course!
Bonnie only weighed four pounds, fourteen ounces. Considering her big sister had weighed eight pounds, seven ounces, holding her was like holding half a baby. Pretty scary little bundle, but sooooooo loved and soooooo adorable. People stared at us in the restaurant while we exchanged baby and paperwork. I have to admit, looking back, it must have looked a little clandestine, but nothing could have been more right or good.
The next morning, when I took 4 1/2-year-old Barbi to Noah's Ark Preschool, she marched in the door and proudly announced, "We went to McDonald's. I got a Happy Meal and Mommy got a baby."
The teachers and other parents looked at her with their mouths agape when I stepped through the door behind my daughter holding our tiny Bonnie. All I could do was laugh, because Barbi had simply told the truth. After the initial shock and a few explanations, we made our trip to the cardiologist, where we learned that Bonnie's heart murmur wasn't as serious as originally feared. While she did require heart surgery at eighteen months, she now has a normal--and very loving--heart.
Since that wonderful day in 1986, we went through another so-called "special needs" adoption to add our son, Ben. As far as my late husband and I were concerned, the only special needs were ours, and our children have fulfilled them and then some. Since both our adopted children are of other races, I was often asked while out shopping whether or not they were my "real" children. I always smiled and said, "Of course. I left the pretend ones at home."
It's all about love--not blood or DNA.
Each of our children was meant to be part of our family. It doesn't matter how they came to be here. We're family. Period.
Bonnie's special all right, but not because of that extra number twenty-one chromosome. She's special because she's Bonnie. Her dad often said she was born missing the mean gene. I think he was right....
Happy birthday, Princess Bonnie.