StoriesJan 10, 2019

Nicole Gower: Adopting two girls with Spina Bifida

We are often asked why we chose to adopt two children with Spina Bifida. Oftentimes I think, well, why not?

It was the summer of 2006 when my husband and I started talking about adoption.

We had two biological boys and had experienced a miscarriage in 2005. We still wanted to have more children, but we didn’t want to go through another miscarriage, so we decided to pursue adoption. After looking into the many options, and after talking with others that have adopted, we decided to adopt from China.

It March of 2017, our paperwork has been successfully submitted, and we had started to look at adoptable children, some with “special needs” (In china this can mean a birthmark, a heart condition, cleft lip, etc.). After waiting for many months, I came across a picture of a little girl, barely two years old at the time, was staring back at me… and I knew that was our daughter. Her need? Spina Bifida. I wasn’t familiar with Spina Bifida at the time, but we requested to review her file anyway… feeling that this was it!

After more waiting, we finally traveled in June of 2008 to bring home Katelyn. Less than two years later, in April of 2010, we would adopt another child with Spina Bifida… our second daughter, Courtney.

We are often asked why we chose to adopt two children with Spina Bifida. Oftentimes I think, well, why not? Simply put, these are two precious children that need and deserve a home and the proper care to thrive. After bringing Katelyn home, and realizing the standards for medical care in China isn’t the best, there was no doubt that when we adopted again, we would look for another child with Spina Bifida. Each of the girls received different care in China. One was in an orphanage, the other in a healing home (similar to a foster family). One should have been cathing, but was not… and both needed a detether surgery when they came home (partly because their initial surgeries were more cosmetic than an actual repair).

Some people think we are crazy for taking on this responsibility… others think it’s generous of us to “help” our girls. For us, they are our daughters. Their medical care is just a part of what we do. They are loved just as much as our biological boys (and trust me, they fight with their brothers just like any bio siblings would!). We have an amazing circle of family and friends that have encouraged and supported us, and we are forever thankful for that.

We definitely knew that the girls had Spina Bifida before we decided to adopt them, but we didn’t know the specifics. Each of our daughters were about 2 ½ years old when we brought them home, and until we met them, we really weren’t sure what complications there might be. I didn’t give birth to the girls, so I didn’t go through the often scary diagnosis process many parents go through. But, we were still unsure and scared. Some of the medical information we were given wasn’t accurate, and, along with Spina Bifida, we knew that we could be facing other challenges that come with adopting a child that may not have had her needs met early on in life.

I’ve had the amazing opportunity to talk with other families that were considering adopting a child with Spina Bifida and mommas that have just learned that their child will be born with Spina Bifida. While each child is different, and there are many uncertainties and challenges, one thing is certain… we would do this all again in a heartbeat!