Reece’s Rainbow Report #2: Suero Family

As we are celebrating 15 years of helping families bring their children home, we will be revisiting some of these ordinary families who took this exceptional step and gave a child a family. With this new twice-monthly column, we will share stories and photos of those children who were previously advocated for and are now home. Feel free to share our Rainbow Reports on social media!
In February of 2020, Danny and Rachel Suero had no idea what was just around the global corner. But as parents of three small children in historic York, Pennsylvania, they did know one thing: if they ever had another daughter, they would name her Lily. 
"Rachel just knew, bathed in the screen’s glow, that she was looking at her daughter."
Adoption wasn’t on their 2020 day planner. Rachel’s parents had adopted two boys with spina bifida from China, and she had interned at a Maryland adoption agency. So maybe someday, and probably from China…but not now. Maybe after they had another biological child (who could be named Lily). 

“But then I saw her,” Rachel says. “Her” was a Ukrainian four-year-old code-named Amelie listed on Reece’s Rainbow. Rachel just knew, bathed in the screen’s glow, that she was looking at her daughter. Amelie wasn’t Chinese, and her given diagnoses (encephalopathy and memory issues, among others) were vague and unfamiliar. Would Danny even be interested?
Thankfully, he was, and the couple in their early 30s dove into the international adoption process. 

“I was very aggressive with getting things done quickly,” Rachel says. Two weeks after committing to Amelie, they saw a post about a boy code-named Kayson in the Reece’s Rainbow Facebook group. He was 10 and a “crib kid.” The Sueros looked at the reasons they should say no — and said yes. 
“Clearly, this isn’t what normal people do,” Rachel remembers thinking. “This is crazy, scary, concerning. There’s trauma involved. Think about your other kids!” 

But there was the rub: in asking herself to consider her “other” children, Rachel was admitting that Amelie and Kayson were her kids, too — just not down the hallway yet. 
Then the world shut down. And then Rachel became pregnant with their fourth. 

“I had tons of doubts along the way, and there were people telling us they didn’t support our adoptions,” she says. “But both my husband and I really believed it was a meant-to-be type of situation.” 

Danny and Rachel decided that “Kayson” would be named Isaac. And whatever Amelie’s Ukrainian name was would become her middle name, with her first name as Lily. That turned out to be unnecessary — because Amelie’s real first name happened to be Lilya, the Ukrainian Lily. 

“I just lost it at that point, sobbing,” says Rachel. “Without holds in Ukraine, I was feeling like she wouldn’t be there waiting, and the thought of not getting her was very scary. But I took her name as a sign, that we were meant to press forward.” 

Rachel did exactly that, driving to each American government office in person exactly as everything began to close. Repeatedly, she watched people walk to their cars with boxes full of files to begin working remotely — so she begged. “These are my children’s photos in Ukraine. Our boy especially needs medical care ASAP. Could you possibly get me this form today?” To Rachel’s astonishment, it worked every time! 
Rachel and Danny flew to Ukraine last August and again in October. There were in-country hiccups, and at one point, Rachel admits to “crying and tantrum-ing in the streets” in frustration.
But Lily and Isaac became American citizens on October 22, 2020, with Isaac going straight into the hospital until he stabilized. “Ever since then it’s been a whirlwind, a total immersion course in all sorts of medical stuff,” Rachel says. “We’ve had good days and weeks and really bad times, with a lot of hospitalizations.”
“I know that lots of typical kids would run from that sort of suffering. But now mine run toward it.”
But there have also been breakthroughs. Rachel homeschools their children (now ages 11, 7, 6, 5, 3 and 7 months), giving her chances to work on bonding with her two newest. Lily has gained significant strength and balance, while Isaac cracks up with glee each time one of his siblings gets in trouble (“We tell him he’s very inappropriate,” Rachel laughs). 

The whole crush of first-year experience — trauma backgrounds, medical needs, difficulty bonding, exhaustion and even anger over life’s injustices — has changed Rachel dramatically, she says. Her house is a mess and she occasionally feels inadequate as an adoptive mother. 

“But family is family, and you make it work,” she says. “There’s not anything I’m doing that anyone else couldn’t.” 

The sweet moments comes when Rachel sees her “other kids” — the ones she was once so worried about — comforting and loving Isaac and Lily. 

“I know that lots of typical kids would run from that sort of suffering. But now mine run toward it.” 

Crystal Kupper
Crystal Kupper is a freelance writer specializing in magazines and special projects. Since earning her journalism degree, she has written for clients such as Zondervan, Focus on the Family and the Salvation Army, among many others.