When I was growing up, my next-door neighbor, Mrs. Felizzi, took a special interest in me. She gave me a jumbo chocolate bar every Halloween and always listened to all of my stories. She even taught me the secret of making perfect pizzelles (leave the cookie batter in the iron for exactly the amount of time it takes to say one Hail Mary).
My mother said Mrs. Felizzi did all this because she couldn’t have kids of her own, and I told my mother that was silly; Mrs. Felizzi should just adopt. My friend Krista was adopted, and if it made sense for her family, it made sense for everyone.
I was so convinced of this that on my first date with the man who is now my husband, I told him I planned to adopt if I couldn’t have biological children. Ten years later, we found ourselves in just that position. My husband grieved that there would never be a baby with his eyes and my nose, but I didn’t feel the same kind of loss. I’d known my whole life what I would do in this situation, so when my husband was ready to move forward, we pursued foster-care adoption. Kids would stay with us while their parents tried to get their acts together. If they succeeded, the kids would reunify; if the parents failed, their rights would be terminated and we’d adopt.
We got the call to take two sisters right before Christmas a few years ago. The oldest was 2½, the youngest not yet a year. We were told it was likely their parents’ rights would be terminated, but when we met Mom for the first time that New Year’s Eve, we had our doubts about that.
Read about how this family grew in an unexpected, yet heartwarming way at washingtonpost.com