Book Tours: Guest Post Finding Zoë Tour

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I’m hosting a guest post today for the book tour for “Finding Zoë”. Enjoy the guest post.

Choosing Open Adoption

I am the proud mother of three biological sons. After three pregnancies, I still had a deep desire for a daughter and the only way to guarantee that seemed to be to pursue adoption. My husband and I are both deaf and after we started the adoption process, we learned about a deaf baby girl named Zoe who was available for adoption. It was perfect.
As part of the adoption process, I had to fill out paperwork that identified the amount of contact I was willing to have with her birth parents. I agreed through this paperwork to provide them with updates and a photo every year on her birthday. That was to be the extent of our contact- and that was what was drawn up in our legal papers. Those updates would be made through the agency—and although I had her birth parents first names and medical history, I did not have their last names or know where they lived.
At first, it was never about whether the adoption would be open or closed. I did not give it much thought. I was more concerned with her birth mother reading my profile and selecting our family as the family to raise her daughter. I waited impatiently for word as to whether we had been selected. The agency finally called after a six-week wait and said the birth mother wanted to meet us. We quickly arranged that meeting. The day after we met, I was notified that we were chosen to adopt Zoe. I was overjoyed.
Slowly, through that process, Zoe’s birth mother became a real person and not just a name on paper. Her name was Jess. She was 17 years old, a senior in High School and while it really pained her to have to place Zoe for adoption, she believed it was the best thing for her daughter. She wanted to go to college and study social work. She had dreams for herself and bigger dreams for Zoe. She was also extremely worried about Zoe and her hearing loss. What would that mean for Zoe? Would Zoe be all right?
On placement day, we drove to the adoption agency where Jess was waiting with Zoe. It was a very powerful moment when she handed me our daughter. I was filled with such gratitude. I slipped her a note that read…
“…Thank you for selecting Tim and I to be her parents. Thank you for giving me the chance to be her mother. You will always be her mother, too—and when she is old enough to understand, I will tell her she is lucky because she has two.”
Six months later I made good on that letter and contacted the adoption agency and asked if Jess would like to see Zoe again—because if she wanted to, I would drive her back. Jess said yes. I did this—most of all—because I wanted Jess to see that despite Zoe being deaf, it was not going to define her. I wanted her to see a thriving child who was starting to communicate in sign language—so she would know in her heart of all hearts that Zoe was doing well. I wanted her to see that Zoe was in the right home.
At that meeting something happened to me inside. When Jess saw Zoe for the first time since she handed her to me at the adoption agency, she leaped towards her and scooped her up. It was an automatic reaction–biological if you will, of a mother leaping towards her child. I saw that leap as pure unconditional love–the kind of love I, as a mother, have for my children. Who was I to deny this girl–who had already experienced so much pain in order to give me such joy–the opportunity to know and love her child?
And, who was I to deny my daughter the opportunity to know who she was and where she came from? I was not going to deny Zoe the chance to know the people who loved her so greatly that they sacrificed a piece of themselves so she would have a better life. I decided right then and there that Zoe was going to know them.
And, they were going to know her.
I wrote my memoir, Finding Zoe, because I so believe in the lessons that I took from my journey of adopting Zoe. There are many life lessons you will find when reading the book. As in the case of choosing open adoption, what I learned very quickly is that there is enough love for all of us.
And, there is.

About the Author

Brandi RarusDeaf since age six after contracting spinal meningitis, Brandi Rarus could speak and read lips, but felt caught between the deaf and hearing world—fitting into neither. When she realized you don’t need to hear to live a fulfilled life, she became empowered and was chosen as Miss Deaf America. From signing the National Anthem at a Chicago Cubs game to speaking at corporate conferences, Brandi traveled the country speaking out for deaf children and building awareness of what it means to be Deaf.

She married Tim Rarus, an advocate for Deaf people whose work inspired the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. Together, they have paved the way to bring new technologies that promote equal access in communication. Brandi and Tim live in Austin, Texas, with their four children: three hearing boys and the youngest, Zoe, a Deaf girl they adopted. Today, Brandi and her family are tirelessly dedicated to ensuring all children find their rightful place in our world.

Her latest book is the biography/autobiography/personal memoir, Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman’s Story of Identity, Love, and Adoption.

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About the Book

Finding Zoe 2In Finding Zoe, Brandi Rarus shares the story of her very personal path of self-discovery and the struggle of being caught between two worlds—the hearing and the Deaf. We travel with her through her mainstreamed younger years and later on to college at The National Technical Institute for the Deaf where she embraces Deaf culture and realizes that being Deaf is not a handicap, but a passport to a whole new and exciting world.

Brandi brings us behind the scenes as she takes on the world advocating for her Deaf Community as Miss Deaf America; meeting and falling in love with Tim, a Gallaudet University student leader who later helped write the landmark Americans with Disability Act on Capitol Hill. The two married and had three hearing boys—the first non-deaf children born in Tim’s family in 125 years, but with all their blessings something was still missing.

With a powerful foreword provided by Marlee Matlin, an Academy Award-winning actress and member of the National Association of the Deaf, Finding Zoe is an inspiring recollection of how two individuals who, already bonded by their diversity, come together as an unbreakable mother-daughter pair to navigate a silent world and shed light the adoption/foster care system.

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