Katilyn was adopted into our family three years ago (this was written by her sister Cami in 1999). She was born with a genetic syndrome, Treacher Collins. With this syndrome she was born without outer ears, without cheek bones, with an extra small jaw, and cannot breathe through her nose. She has a tracheotomy in order for her to breathe. She cannot swallow much of anything, so she has a gastrointestinal button (is fed with an IV type pump directly into her stomach). Inspite of all these problems she has an incredible personality full of curiosity and is smarter than the average three year old. She is very much loved by her adopted family.
Katie, What A Memory
The anticipation was like a mosquito bite that would not stop itching. Scratch, scratch, it became worse and worse the more I played with it. When would they arrive? Would I wake up in time? What if I don't like her? It was 12:07AM, and my nerves were so tense I could not fall asleep. Questions ran through my head ninety-five miles per minute, so fast I could hardly think about answering them. I looked at the clock again, 12:07 still! Would this night ever end?
It all began the previous year when my parents sat us down for a family meeting. "Girls," my dad started, "we are thinking about adopting a child." Whoa, that was a shocker! "You know how we sometimes feel like someone is missing? Well, we think this is the answer since your mother can no longer have children." Then he went on explaining the little details of the idea. "But since we already have a good amount of kids, we most likely will receive a special needs baby. This could be a handicapped or black baby or an older foster child." Immediately, I decided I could not handle a handicapped kid! What if it can never leave home, will I have to take care of it for the rest of my life? I don't want to have that kind of responsibility. No one will want to marry me if that is how it will end up! And what if it is a black little girl, how do you do black hair? Everyone will make fun of her because she is in a white family. Interrupting my intense thoughts, my father concluded with deep emotion, "We feel this is the right thing to do, and we want your consent. We will meet again in a few weeks and discuss what you all think, okay?" My sisters and I all in a bit of confusion and surprise, agreed to meet again.
For the next two weeks I only thought of myself. I wondered why I had to make this kind of decision. I felt so selfish, but I didn't want to have that kind of responsibility. Would anyone? I became very concerned with the idea of an abused or violent child. How would I handle that? I struggled with these selfish thoughts the entire week.
The meeting came. I still had not made a decision. My dad lovingly sat the family down and began. Mom twiddled her thumbs and slowly studied each one of her daughter's faces, my distraught one included. He finally got to the dreaded point of the meeting and asked each one of us how we felt. I was last; I had a few minutes to think. Everyone else seemed excited and very willing to go ahead with the idea. Why didn't I feel that way? It was my turn. I lied, "I'm fine with it." That was my extensive and elaborate response. I sat down. "Why do I feel so guilty," I thought. The meeting ended soon after my brave and deep answer. I went to my bedroom. Maybe sleeping would make me forget all about this.
Months past and nothing had happened. No calls from Social Services, nothing. My family did not seem to even worry about it. Soon, a year had gone by. We had moved to Virginia and had been going to school for a good part of the first semester. Everything was going great. School was awesome, and it was getting close to my sixteenth birthday. I had not worried or much less thought about the adoption. Why would a fifteen year old girl as busy as I was worry about that? It was not a major issue anymore, or so I thought.
January twenty-second 1996 in the early evening the telephone rang. My parents came in my basement bedroom after an hour conversation on the phone to tell my twin sister and I that Social Services had a baby for us. Wow, I suddenly felt excited, a little baby! "She does have some handicaps, and they say she is completely adorable," my mother explained in a high voice. My whole attitude changed. I was thrilled with the idea of a brand new baby! Everyone was filled with excitement and anticipation. Then, suddenly, everything stopped. We did not have her yet, Social Services wanted my parents to fly down to Atlanta, Georgia to see her first. Hum, I wonder what she looks like? Why did her parents give her up? Maybe her mom was close to my age.
The next morning my parents flew out to Atlanta, Georgia to see the mysterious little girl. My five sisters and I were left home with curiosity galore. They promised to call and let us know what she was like as soon as they found out. Ring, ring...seven hours later the awaited phone call came. They began to explain. The first words out of my dad's mouth were, "We fell in love with her." My dad's specialty was girls, he had five of them already, so he should have known what he was talking about. They explained her personality, "She is bright eyed and completely lovable." Next came the introduction to her handicap.
"She has no outer ears, no cheek bones and cannot breath through her nose. She has a tracheotomy and has to be fed through a tube down her throat. Most likely she is deaf and can not hear most of what anyone says. At the moment she is paralyzed because she underwent emergency surgery immediately after she was born to get her tracheotomy so she could breath. The name of her condition is Treacher Collins Syndrome. It is a genetic disorder that is basically a deformity of the face. Mentally, she is very bright and absolutely fine."
Whoa, how exciting but terrifying. Soon after, they ended the conversation and said they could be coming home the following night.
A week later my sisters, Tara, Jami, Alison, Lyndsey, and I were so excited we could barely handle it. My parents would come home with Katie, our new little sister that night. Unfortunately they could not find an early flight so would not be arriving until two or three AM. If I would just go to sleep the night would go by faster and I could see her...Katie. 12:08AM, the clock seemed to be broken. "Go to sleep! You have school tomorrow," I kept telling myself. Finally, after a moment of relaxation I fell asleep.
Beep, beep, beep, beep- 5:00AM. I rolled over in my warm bed pretending I did not hear the annoying awaking machine in hopes that my twin would turn it off. Wait...it is morning and my parents should be home! I threw my quilt and sheets off and ran up the stairs as my twin followed. First, we checked my parents bed. Yes, they were home. Then we ran down the hall to the new baby's room. I turned the corner. The room smelled of a recently sanitized hospital. There in the brand new crib we set up just a few days earlier laid a little lump underneath a blue and pink blanket. Sound asleep, this little angel without ears laid on her stomach with her legs tucked under herself slightly projecting her tiny bum into the air. Her fuzzy wavy dark brown hair covered her entire head except for a little round bald spot on the back of her head (most likely from being in a hospital be so long). I touched her. How could I have ever doubted this? She was perfect. I felt her love; she took mine. What an experience. In just a few minutes I learned a life long lesson that most people never have a chance to learn. Life with added love and an open heart is three times the happiness.
By her Older Sister, Cami Whicker
Katie and Tara:
Treacher Collins is a rare syndrome. The following are a few related sites:
If there are any questions my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org