Shaneen, Chante's cousin, was adopted from South Korea when she was 18-months old. We can't imagine life without her in our extended family. She is the life of the party who loves everyone and whom everyone loves her because of her big heart. Growing up, Chante had no idea just how big Shaneen's heart was. One year into our marriage, Shaneen approached us with an offer to carry our child.
We were humbled by and eternaly grateful for her willing sacrifice. She did something for us we will never be able to do for ourselves due to Chante's childhood cancer battle. She gave us the opportunity to parent.
It was an emergency room birth, so we were not present when Ephraim was born. Thankfully, Shaneen's family was there to support her and it turned out to be a memorable moment for them. This was one of those times things worked out the way they were meant to. We are not set on being present for any of the births of children we adopt and defer to the preferences of the one who should call all the shots: the birth mother!
The legal process of the gestational surrogacy was very similar to an independent adoption, and the medical process was similar to IVF. Ephraim is biologically related only to Abraham but still shares Chanté's spunky spirit.
There are no words to convey our love and appreciation, just songs in our hearts. She gave Ephraim the gift of life. We will express the same love and appreciation for any birth mother of children we have the privilege of raising. We will teach our children who loved them first and always and teach them to honor and respect their birth mother's sacrifice for them. And we hope their birth mothers will tell them in person, "I love you." Then they will never doubt.
We stay in close contact with "Aunt Shaneen," and also her two boys whom we call "bruzins," short for brother-cousins because they are so close. We exchange pictures and videos often, meet for dinners, go on vacation together, and all sing happy birthday at the same time to baby E.
We have pictures of Shaneen and Ephraim together on our walls. We tell him often, "This is Aunt Shaneen and she loves you so much!" We look forward to sharing the rest of the sotry with him as soon as possible.
Shaneen offered to speak with anyone who would be interested in learning more about her experience with our family or even her own personal adoption story. Let us know if you are interested and we will share her number with you.