Thursday, April 3, 2008

And His Name Was Nicolas

And His Name Was Nicolas

Erin Conroy

As children, like most little girls, my big sister, Shannon, and I loved to play house. Before we could officially start our play, we would always decide on various important details, such as what our pretend husbands looked like, how many kids we had, and what their names were. Shannon always had a boy and a girl. The girl’s name often changed, but the boy’s name was always Nicolas.

When we grew older and my sister became pregnant with her first child, she had many names picked out for a girl, but only one boy’s name: Nicolas. When she became pregnant with her second child, she still hoped she would be able to use the name Nicolas, but she was happy when she gave birth to another healthy baby girl.

After the birth of her two daughters, my sister discovered she would be unable to have any more biological children, so sadly, the name Nicolas went unused.

Shortly after I married my husband, we started trying to have children. After years of fertility treatments and many sad losses, we tentatively called an agency to inquire about the procedure for adoption. Due to my husband’s deafness, we knew we could handle certain special needs, and we were very excited about the prospect of welcoming a deaf child into our home.

We decided to adopt from China. Just like when we were children, I felt like my sister and I were playing house again. We would excitedly call each other on the phone and talk about names for our little girl. What would she look like? Should we paint her room pink or purple? Should we name her Sophia or Olivia?

Shortly after submitting our application to our agency, I received a telephone call from our social worker. There was an eight-week-old baby boy in an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia, who was diagnosed at birth with a hearing loss. His birth mother named him Nicolas.

The social worker asked, “Are you interested?”

I immediately exclaimed, “Yes!” And only as an afterthought, I sent my husband an e-mail telling him of the exciting news.

The first telephone call I made was to my sister.

“Shannon,” I said, “we might have a baby.”

She excitedly replied, “Oh, but it’s so soon. I thought you would have to wait longer. What part of China is she from?”

“Well, she’s not from China, and ‘she’ is a ‘he.’ He’s from Colombia, and he’s deaf.”

She hesitated.

“Oh, Erin, are you sure about this? A special-needs child can pose some real challenges.”

I quietly said, “Shannon, his name is Nicolas.”

And her reply? “That’s your baby.”

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