In 1988 and 1989 we had two sons the “natural” way but Sue’s incubator system was not kind to babies so the plan for four kids came to an end. Great we thought…we have two, that will be fine.
By the early 1990’s it was not so fine and after much discussion and soul searching we decided to look into adoption. Just at that time it was really being opened up, - age restrictions disappeared, the fact we already had children was no longer an issue so we did the workshops and put in our profile in 1993…then waited.
In September 1995 our profiles needed reviewing so we decided to do an update, and if nothing happened then we would give it away. When we updated, we discussed adoption from overseas and our thoughts around special needs kids, - (we were looking at older children from Hong Kong) and we decided we could put that in our profile and look at it if it came up. Little did we know that at the same time we were discussing this, a little girl with Downs Syndrome was being born.
In February 1996 we were rung to see if we would like our profile sent to Wanganui as they had a baby girl there with special needs. Two days later they rang to say she was ours if we wanted her! A little girl, four months old with Downs Syndrome. It was also our wedding anniversary!! As most adoptive parents can understand, madness ensued. We told immediate family only, rang two support agencies who deal with special needs kids to get a better understanding of what we were about to do then set off to Wanganui to meet her. I must say, at this stage we had not decided anything and really were winging it. Sue thought it would be ok, Graeme wasn’t sure and the boys were just excited. When we got there we had a very stilted and nervous meeting with the birth parents and then went to the foster carers’ home where we met a very tired screaming baby with her eyes rolled back in her head. It had been arranged that after the visit we would head to our motel and decide overnight if we were prepared to go ahead. By this time Sue was not so sure, Graeme felt it would be okay and the boys thought she was great! Next morning we signed the papers and arranged to meet the birth parents at a local park as this wee girl had a twin brother and three older sisters. This meeting was much better and we all had a great chat, discussed contact etc and felt much more relaxed about each other. The next morning we picked little Courtney up and headed home.
Over the years many have asked why a family would give this child up, was it simply because of the Downs? Decisions are never this simple, suffice to say had she stayed the arrangement at the time was pretty much a solo parent for much of the time with five children under four years (two sets of twins), one of whom had Downs and medical issues. The fact it took four months to make a final decision and find a family says it all really. We think they made a good decision.
Our Courtney has brought so much to our lives that we would never have had. She is funny, has a great sense of humour, charms most people and often knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. Like all kids she is at times naughty, bossy, stubborn and can be a complete irritation. Her brother’s mates think she is great, they can teach her all sorts of silly things and she picks just the right moment to do it all. She is a much loved member of our extended family and community.
Over the years we have maintained communication with her birth family via letters, phone calls and videos. We send birthday/Christmas cards and presents to her siblings and they send back to her. They did also send gifts for our boys when they were younger. We always send an update on her year for her birthday and they update what they have been up to. Photos go back and forth. She knows she has a tummy mummy and a mummy mummy. We are not sure how much she comprehends of the adoption situation but she sees the photos and we always talk about her other brother and sisters. We would love her to meet them again but are leaving that in the Birth family’s court…..there have been opportunities that they have not let us know about so we assume it is not their wish at present and that’s okay.