When Liz and Jason Barnette began the adoption process for their daughter Hannah, the challenges of caring for a child with cleft lip and palate seemed, at first, worrisome. But once home with Hannah, they realized that any struggles they face are just minor details in an otherwise joyous life.
by Liz Barnette
Deciding to start our family through adoption in January of 2010 was the first of many more decisions that would quickly follow. In the next three months we would decide on an agency, country, and special needs versus healthy referral program. Each decision gave us a sense of peace as we moved forward in the journey to our child. Holt’s Korea waiting child program was the perfect fit for us. We did not want to wait years for a referral and had heard about the numerous children with mild and often correctable conditions who needed a family. In particular, reading blogs from other families who had adopted waiting children encouraged us to choose the waiting child program; over and over, we read stories about children with medical conditions or disabilities who are now flourishing in their forever families.
We filled out our application in March and then sat down together to complete the waiting child medical needs checklist. While all the decisions up to this point had seemed big, this checklist was a daunting task. While necessary to the process, it also felt quite strange. There is no checklist for biological children!
Some conditions were straightforward and others required research. Some conditions one of us would be open to, but the other, not so sure. Many of the needs we checked ‘yes’ to were mild and correctable. When we got to the cleft lip and palate section, we realized we both felt really drawn to this particular medical need. As a speech pathologist, I have taken coursework in cleft lip and palate and how it influences speech and feeding. My husband sells medical devices and frequently works with plastic and oral surgeons. Although cleft lip and palate does not self-correct – and can be very involved – we felt like we had sufficient access to the people and resources needed to care for a child with this particular condition.
A few months later, Holt sent an email to families in the waiting child program with information about children who would be added to the photolisting that week. This was the first email that included a child with cleft lip and palate. It seems a little crazy to say this, but we both felt that our child would have a cleft lip and/or palate, even though we were open to various other needs. We could hardly contain our excitement that this 6-month-old baby girl might be our daughter! Continue reading “Cleft Lip and Palate? No Big Deal”