Vol. 14, No. 1 • November 2009

A Place for Michael
We Thought Our Family Was Complete Until We Learned Our Daughter’s Brother Needed Us

by Basil Qaqish

“I am sorry,” the doctor said. “You can’t get pregnant on your own. You’ll need an in vitro procedure.”

This happened quite a few years back. In vitro procedures have less than a 30% chance of success and a high price tag. Too high for us at the time.

You see, I had married a beautiful western girl and immigrated to the west. My academic degrees from back home did not amount to much, or so I felt. So, I decided to have a fresh start for my academic studies by getting an undergraduate degree from a western university, then pursue graduate studies.

The fact Diane, my wife, could not get pregnant did not bother me much. But it was a different story to Diane. Accepting this was very hard for her.

We Look at Adoption
Years went by. I finished my education and our life became more stable. I had a secure job with a reasonable income. Even though we were not getting any younger, my wife still longed to have children.

So we looked at adoption. Many couples go to faraway countries like Russia and China to adopt a child. But we had heard there were children in North Carolina who needed a family.

We went to the department of social services (DSS) to learn about fostering and adoption. We found that to get licensed as foster/adoptive parents, a couple has to do many things. There are classes to go to. There are medical exams. The fire marshal has to come to your home to make sure it is safe. Police reports have to be obtained to make sure you are not a danger to children.

It takes real commitment to become a foster/adoptive parent.

My wife and I went to special classes and met all the requirements necessary to be licensed as foster/adoptive parents. It took us about eight months to get there, but finally we got licensed.

Our Family Grows
Not long afterwards, DSS called and asked Diane to go to the local hospital. There, a social worker brought her a two-day old child, Kayla, to take home and care for until the judicial system could decide on the matter. Diane was thrilled.

It’s been almost four years since that day. Kayla now carries my family name for her last name. We adopted her when she was about 16 months old.

Later, DSS placed Sierra with us. She was a lively two-year old, but with no structured way of life. She had been in a home where all they ate was junk food. She did not have any schedules of eating or sleeping. We had to work to create some structure in her life.

After she was placed with us, Sierra was given a battery of tests and was found to be behind other children her age in seven out of eight developmental areas. After that we took her for therapy and tried to design activities to help her. We also ended up adopting that lovely child.

Sierra started school this year. When we took her to register her in school, they had to test her on a battery of tests geared toward understanding her cognitive and social skills and development. Well—and this brings tears to my eyes—Sierra scored above average on most of the tests: cognitive and social and emotional!

Children are resilient. All they need is some structure and love and they will thrive.

A Full House
After adopting Sierra and Kayla, my wife and I felt our family was complete. We had two lovely children. Our lives were full and busy with family and friends.

Plus, we had a two-bedroom house. I literally had to watch my steps to avoid stepping on the girls’ toys. The house was cramped. We couldn’t even have a visitor stay overnight. So we decided to let our foster home license expire.

We Change Our Plans
Then one day, the DSS foster care and adoption supervisor visited with my wife. Out of the blue, she asked Diane if she wanted another baby boy!

We really did not plan on another child. But my wife asked the supervisor about the child. As it turned out, he was a half brother to one of the girls we adopted.

When she learned that, the decision was made in my wife’s mind. We couldn’t say no to a child who is a brother to our little girl.

So, when I came home from work that day, I had a new surprise waiting for me. I just did not know how we could make it in such a little house!

One of the blessings of a bad housing market is that one can buy a much larger home for less. This is what we did recently. We moved to a new house where all of our children have their own rooms—all with walk-in closets, believe it or not! We have a home that accommodates all of us nicely.

We are blessed. Michael, the new little baby, was also two days old when he came to us. He is almost one year old now. He is a charming and very observant child.

I am glad my wife agreed we would care for Michael. There is always a place in our lives for another soul to love.

A native of Jordan, Basil Qaqish lives with his family in Winston-Salem, NC.

Copyright 2009 Jordan Institute for Families