Hi there! We are the Staley Family. Paul is a Software Developer and SharePoint Administrator and Elizabeth a stay at home mom. Why do we want to adopt? The short answer is that we love being parents and we have the time and love to pour into a couple more kiddos.
The long answer is more complicated and heartbreaking. I personally have always wanted to adopt as long as I can remember. I honestly cannot say how that seed was originally planted there. Our son in law called and asked if we would be interested in adopting a little girl from Ecuador. She was 4 and in a bad situation. We had a big house, time, great insurance and lots of love so of course we said yes. Fast forward a few weeks and many calls to attorneys in both Ecuador and here, this was not even an option. We realized then we had both been really excited about having a new little person and decided we would go forward and adopt anyway. We looked into several adoption programs and chose China. We fit the parameters, the program seemed stable and to be honest we also were dying to see China. I do believe when you choose a country, you should probably love the food and be interested in the culture because you will need to weave this into the rest of your life.
We started out to only adopt one child with an “easy” special need (Its ok to laugh here, we know better now). We signed for a little girl with albinism, but there was also little girl with a big scary special need that I thought about constantly, I stalked her advocacy page and watched as families said no to her file. I asked her advocate a million questions. Then I had dreams about her (until that moment I felt that statement “I just knew” was probably a bunch of crap), but I did just know.
Gabby had tetralogy of fallot and pulmonary atresia, she had significant lung damage from receiving the wrong surgery and poor oxygen saturation (She was in the 60’s). We adopted both girls in an expedited process and it was the trip of a lifetime. We joked that we had the best souvenirs ever. We made it through two open heart surgeries for Gabby and 3 other surgeries in very short order, we lived at the hospital for a month after the first surgery in 2015. Gabby’s vocal cords were damaged in that first surgery. She was placed on thickened liquids. The girls started therapy 6-8 appointments a week right away. We were really crazy busy. Isabella had many bonus special needs we were not expecting but we continued to try different things. Izzy had really endured such an awful time because her SN is seen as a curse. I wish those same people could see my stunningly beautiful girl now who exceeded every single evaluation thus far.
During Gabby’s second open heart surgery (2017) she was diagnosed with a rare (only 64 other cases) case of fungal mediastinitis. I called every other infectious disease team I could find NO ONE had seen it or treated it. I gave her high dose antifungal meds through a picc line every day. Only 40% chance of survival and 0% if it came back, but Gabby is tough and had an unequalled zest for life, so she survived. The thing about Gabby is no matter what was going on she would make you laugh, she could be sick or tired, it didn’t matter. Gabby is a princess superhero with sparkle and sass to spare. She introduced herself to everyone saying “Hi my name is Gabby, what’s your name?” as she shoved out her hand. She never met a stranger. Her laugh is like magic, she is sweet and kind but also brave and fierce. Guess what? Gabby beat the odds and survived!
Izzy and Gabby have had a million adventures together. They are sisters, friends, playmates and partners in crime. Gabby had been asking for another sibling for some time, so Paul and I began to discuss it. We needed Izzy to go through the ABA class (she is autistic) first and hoped she would make some progress. She would begin ABA in October of 2018. We thought we would start another adoption in late summer. We began saving for our adoption in mid-summer of 2018. In late August Gabby got her usual little fever (she has had the same thing at least 100 times), never above 101 but she still wasn’t improving on day 3 so I called the pediatrician, the cardiologist but no one was worried “It’s going around” they said. I was still unsettled and took her to the ER (calling ahead to say I think something is wrong). They were not worried. We were never even triaged. No one was worried until they took her blood. She was admitted and after 4 days passed away on August 29 after having a stent and melody valve placed. She survived the operation but had a massive heart attack and bled out, she never left the OR. Gabby was the light of my life. The fungus had returned, she had been in severe sepsis.
When you lose a child, people say the craziest things to you: People ask “Did you know”, we knew she was sick yes and she deserved a family, the real tragedy would be if we had missed the opportunity to be her parents. It was a gift. Gabby was the sort of person who comes along once in a lifetime. She was worth it. I’m grateful we got to be her parents and grief is truly the price of love, and Gabby is worth every bit of that excruciating pain now.
People say “Be grateful you have other children” right, yes this is true, I do have other children, but I’d love for them to pick one of their children they could live without. It is impossible. They say “At least it wasn’t your biological child” as if somehow we loved Gabby any less because we didn’t share DNA. I loved her with my whole heart and I’d give anything for my Superhero Princess to be here and go on the adoption trip with us, unfortunately no one asked me. Being Gabby’s mom showed me that it is ok to be afraid but still do it anyway. Gabby touched so many lives in her 5 ½ years here on earth, she sure changed everything for our family. People say the adopted child is lucky, but they have absolutely no idea, we are really the lucky ones, we met so many wonderful people, saw amazing sites, celebrated holidays and ate foods we’d have never tried had it not been for adoption.
The best thing is coming in the door and hearing the thundering of little feet running toward you to hug you around the neck with giggles and sticky hands.
We are now matched with a little girl “Stella Mae” with Down Syndrome and hope we can bring her home soon. Izzy is so excited to be a big sister and can’t wait to show her sister the ropes, share the pink Unicorn room and the play area. We can’t wait to have all the family adventures with her!
8/2/2021 — COMPILING DOSSIER