Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Growing Their Nest
One couple's story of adoption

by Carrie Bishop

November 01, 2012

You know the story: A couple thinks they are done having children, then surprise! It’s a boy. In the case of Karen and Donald Crane, make that three boys.

Meet the Cranes

In 2010 the Cranes were a content family of four living in Greenfield. Donald a minister at Park Chapel Christian Church. Karen a stay at home mom. Their oldest child, Matthew, was born with Down syndrome. Alice was born a typically developing girl. Life was moving along at a comfortable pace.

Then they hear about a baby in Chicago in need of a home. Hmmm. Like their oldest, the child was born with Down syndrome. While the couple had talked loosely about adoption, it was not something they were actively pursuing. No matter. They went for it. In the back of their minds they knew if they were to adopt, they wanted a baby boy with Down syndrome. “We felt that is what God was calling us to do,” said Donald.

As anyone who has gone through an adoption will tell you, there’s a lot of preparation and paperwork that goes into the process. The Cranes didn’t have the necessary documents done in time, so they lost the child to another family. Three months later they had fallen in love with another baby boy, and once again the child went to another family. Then it happened a third time. Their hearts were broken but not their spirits.

“We prayed about it. We felt like God put this on our hearts. It was like having an empty seat at the dinner table,” Karen said.

A week after the third boy’s case fell through the Cranes got a call from New York. An infant named Nicholas needed a home. The Cranes were thrilled. At five days old, he joined their family.

Like others with Down syndrome, Nicholas had a weak heart that required surgery. He underwent surgery in January 2011. The 2 1/2 hour operation turned into seven hours. Two hours later he died in the Cranes’ arms. “That was Nicholas. He’s a treasure waiting for us in heaven,” said Donald.

They had been through so much to finally meet and adopt Nicholas and then to have him taken away so soon was heart wrenching. The couple wondered if they should continue their search for a child to adopt.

“Lord, if you want us to do this make it very clear,” Karen remembers thinking. Sometimes you get what you ask for.

A Stork at the Door

Later that year a stork of sorts arrived. The Villages adoption services called with news of a Ukrainian toddler who had been with his adoptive family for two weeks and it was not working out. Would the Cranes would like to meet him?

“We met him knowing we’d fall in love but thought the parents just needed some help. So we met with the parents first. We were trying to give them help. We thought we could give them the encouragement to keep him home,” said Karen.

They tried talking to the adoptive parents about different resources and ways to help, but it became apparent they weren’t willing to look at ways to make it work. Soon thereafter, The Villages called and could bring the child to their front door within the week.

On Oct. 28, 2011, the child, Kendyll, arrived at his new and permanent home with the Cranes.

Of course when it rains, it pours. A month prior to adopting Kendyll, the Cranes received a phone call from another adoption agency about a boy born on Nicholas’ first birthday. Perhaps it was a sign. Eight days after Kendyll’s adoption, Nathan joined the family.

Special Needs Adoption

Through their six attempts at adopting boys with Down syndrome, the Cranes have come to know a lot about the process and have compassion for families on both ends of the process. They know raising a child with special needs is not easy and requires resources that can strain some families. They’ve seen it in both Kendyll’s and Nathan’s situations.

“To look at the situation and say ‘This is more than I have resources for or than I can be a parent for,’ that takes tremendous courage. I have tremendous respect for them to look at their situation, their resources and say ‘We can’t raise this child.’ It’s not a limitation on their part, it’s just the situation in which they live,” he said.

In fact, the couple keeps in contact with both Nathan’s biological family and Kendyll’s first adoptive parents. They also speak with families considering adoption to help them better understand from their perspective what it’s like to go through the process and then become an adoptive parent to a child with special needs.

Living a Good Life

Today the Cranes feel blessed to have four children ages 9, 6, 3 and 1. Are more adoptions in the plans? For now the answer is no.

“We are done adopting. There’s no more room in the van,” Karen said with a smile.