Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My White House speech

Good afternoon.

My name is Bethany and this is my husband Kyle. Never in our lives did we think we would have the opportunity to present our story in this type of forum. But, we are here. We are completely honored.

Kyle and I were married in 1999, nearly 11 years ago. Shortly thereafter, we were ready to expand our family. We experienced infertility for three years before finally conceiving our son via in vetro fertilization in 2003. During that time, we browsed many photolistings of children available for adoption. Our hearts were touched, but our desire to have a biological child was greater.

Little did we know, we were being prepared for what was to come.

In January 2004, our son Mason, was born … and exactly two years later, I gave birth to our daughter, Payton. Shortly after her birth, we learned that she has Down syndrome. Her diagnosis rocked our world. It is difficult to put into words the range of emotions that you experience after receiving a diagnosis like this. Happiness, sadness, hope and fear. None of those things, however, can conquer love. If there is one thing that Payton has taught us, it is to love unconditionally and to appreciate the simple things in life.

And it is because of Payton that we have this little girl here with us today.

Meet Addison. For the first two years of her life, she was an orphan. She lived in a baby home in St. Petersburg, Russia, never to be visited by her birth family and never to be visited by a potential adoptive family. Why? Because she has Down syndrome.

In November 2008, we welcomed Addison … or “Nika”, as we call her … into our family. After having Payton, our eyes were opened to international adoption of children with Down syndrome. Quite frankly, although we had previously browsed photolistings, we ultimately were able to have our biological children and adoption was not really something we needed to pursue.

But we pursued adoption because Nika needed a family. And our family needed her. After hearing stories about children with Down syndrome being institutionalized at age four simply because of their disability, we knew that we were being called to adopt. We fell in love with a picture of this little girl. We knew that we could give her a great life. We were familiar with Down syndrome. We already had the resources to get her the help she needed.

But finances stood in the way.

International adoption is not cheap. And we most certainly did not have the cash sitting around to complete an adoption. But we found a way.

We raised funds. We received incredible support from family and friends. We had garage sales, bake sales and raffles. But the fundraising only took us so far. That is where the Adoption Tax Credit kicked in. It became our life line in allowing us to complete our adoption. Knowing that we could count on the tax credit to reimburse us for a good portion of our expenses, we were able to proceed. It allowed us to get back on our feet, so to speak, after our adoption was complete.

Adopting a child with special needs brings a lot more expense than that of a typical child. Doctor visits, therapies … it all adds up. We needed all the financial support we could get. The Adoption Tax Credit was a huge part of that. … as it is for so many families throughout the United States. International adoption of children with Down syndrome has recently become a movement, for lack of a better word, in the Down syndrome community. Our community is intertwined on a national level and so many of us have watched each other bring these children home. Most of these families have relayed that finances were the #1 hurdle in their adoption. Knowing that we have the support of the Adoption Tax Credit goes without saying … it is helping to make it possible for these children to come home where they belong.

Our family has been forever changed by Nika. Being able to experience an international adoption is in and of itself amazing. The bond that we have formed with her is something I never thought possible. She has grown in so many ways since coming home from Russia … we are so excited for what the future holds for her. The bond that she has with her brother and sister is unbreakable. Yes, there have been challenges … but those challenges have been far outweighed by love. We are so excited that our girls have each other. They will have each other for the rest of their lives. They are thriving, as is the heart of their big brother just for being who he is … the big brother to two very special little girls with Down syndrome.

Outside of Nika’s impact on our family, so many around us have been equally impacted by her adoption. Adopting a child with Down syndrome is not the norm, but to be honest … it is moving to see how people’s hearts are touched by something that seems unbelievable to so many. If we have inspired just one person to adopt, then our job is done. I know for a fact that the Adoption Tax Credit is what seals the deal for so many families.

Thank you.

8 comments:

  1. this was so beautifully written. i would love one day in the future for miss maggie to also have a sister with ds...it may just be a dream but we will see :)

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  2. Thanks for sharing, Bethany. You did a fabulous job!

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  3. Awesome job!!! I know the Utah Adoption Council is happy with what you have been able to do and share with those who will be making these decisions. Oh I got my video of the New York Buddy Walk and saw your two girls on it. LOVED the pics you sent in. Sam in on there as well. Making his funny face in a suitcase with a bowtie around his neck.

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  4. You are a wonderful advocate, Bethany! Great work!

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  5. I watched it. You rocked it out! Hero!!!
    ---Jen

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  6. Wonderful job!!! I saw it live! :)

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  7. How awesome! And what an opportunity for you and your family! Fab speech...and I'll need to look into that tax credit...for the past few months I've mentioned adoption to my hubs, and the money part is one of the things that really stands in the way...hmmm....

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  8. Amazing! It moved me to tears! Do you have any photos of you giving the speech?

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i got no shame... i love reading your comments... anyone who says they don't care about comments is lying... so let's hear it... muah!