A Modern Day Miracle

An African American baby born with a cleft is placed.

Sonia Billadeau March 31, 2014
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Sometimes, even in this modern day, miracles happen. I don’t mean the spectacular miracles– I mean the quiet ones.  Miracles that happen when the right things happen at just the right time to just the right people.  Recently, I was witness to such a miracle.

I was home one afternoon when I received a call from one of our readers in the Chicago area. She had gotten a call from an adoptive placement agency in her area. The agency had a newborn child with a cleft to place. Since our reader was an adult born with a cleft and a leader in cleft-related issues in her area, they thought to contact her, thinking she may know of someone to adopt this baby.  Normally, a newborn child is not difficult to place in an adoptive home. For every healthy newborn infant available for adoption there are literally dozens upon dozens of couples who would jump at the chance to be that child’s parents. The cleft made the prospects a bit more difficult. The overwhelming majority of couples waiting to adopt a newborn are typically waiting for a healthy child– meaning, one that will not require surgeries to correct a birth defect.  Still, with so many prospective parents out there and so few available children, many couples are willing to consider a child with a correctable birth defect.  However, there was one more factor that figured into this little boy’s situation that made his placement challenging; he was African American.

Clefts are fairly rare among persons of African ancestry, and so the placement of this tiny child seemed nearly impossible.  Thus, his placement agency contacted our reader.  This reader has a tremendous storehouse of experience concerning cleft-related issues, but she has almost no experience concerning adoptions.   I am the adoptive mother of three cleft-affected children. And so, she decided to call me.  I was certainly concerned for the child and talked for some time with her, but I did not feel I could offer much help.  When we ended our conversation, I told her that I would keep my ears open for a family but couldn’t promise anything.  As I hung up the phone I sadly told my husband, “I wish I knew how to help him.”

Then the miracle happened.

The next day I answered the phone again. This time it was another reader who called to express her thrill that her daughter’s photo had placed as Honorable Mention in our recent Beautiful Smiles Photo Contest. This mother’s child was named Hannah.  She was of African American ancestry and had been born with a cleft. As I talked with Sherri about her beautiful daughter, she mentioned that someday she and her husband would like to adopt again, and they hoped that they could adopt another African American child with a cleft. I was amazed at the comment. African American with cleft is a rare enough combination. African American with cleft available for adoption is an impossible dream. And yet, I knew of just the child!   I asked Sherri how soon they would consider adopting again. Saying she didn’t know, I then asked, “How about right away?”  I explained to her about the little boy I had learned of the day before. At first Sherri said it would be too soon, but before long she asked me to call the child’s social worker to express their interest.

I quickly made the call. The social worker asked if I could call the family and ask that their local social worker call her. When I called Sherri back, she was already on the phone with her social worker to get the ball rolling.  To make a long story short, in a few short days the family had met the baby and his birth mother and plans were put into motion to make sweet little Hannah a big sister!

Who would have guessed that a person from California would lead a mother from Wisconsin to find her son in Illinois, when none of the above even knew each other?  Thanks to the insight of our Chicago reader, and to the coincidental timing of two telephone conversations, a little boy who once had no family, now has a father, a mother, and a loving sister. Was it luck? Maybe. Was it fate? Possibly. Was it a miracle? Absolutely.

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Sonia Billadeau


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