(61) Finding Zoe: A deaf woman's story of identity, love and adoption

Title: Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman's Story of Identity, Love, and Adoption by Brandi Rarus & Gail Harris
Publisher: BenBella Books
Pages: 254 pages
Format: ebook
Genre: Adoption / Deaf Culture

Synopsis: Brandi Rarus was just 6 when spinal meningitis took away her hearing. Because she spoke well and easily adjusted to lip reading, she was mainstreamed in school and socialized primarily in the hearing community. Brandi was a popular, happy teen, but being fully part of every conversation was an ongoing struggle. She felt caught between two worlds—the Deaf and the hearing.

In college, Brandi embraced Deaf Culture along with the joys of complete and effortless communication with her peers. Brandi went on to become Miss Deaf America in 1988 and served as a spokesperson for her community. It was during her tenure as Miss Deaf America that Brandi met Tim, a leader of the Gallaudet Uprising in support of selecting the university’s first Deaf president. The two went on to marry and had three hearing boys—the first non-deaf children born in Tim’s family in 125 years.

Brandi was incredibly grateful to have her three wonderful sons, but couldn't shake the feeling something was missing. She didn’t know that Zoe, a six-month-old Deaf baby girl caught in the foster care system, was desperately in need of a family unafraid of her different needs. Brandi found the answer to her prayers when fate brought her new adopted daughter into her life.

Review:This was not only a book about adoption but also one of self acceptance. Brandi struggled with her deafness, ultimately coming to terms with it and embracing deaf culture. After giving birth to 3 boys Brandi still yearned for a girl and had applied to adopt from China when they were called about a baby in foster care with severe hearing loss.

This book is broken into 3 different parts.  The first is the story of Brandi, becoming deaf at age 6, struggling with her identity and then acceptance, marriage and children. The second part of the book focuses on Jess, Zoe's birth mother and her story of finding out she was pregnant, deciding what to do and embracing adoption. Finding a family only to have the birth father fight for custody and the adoptive parents decide that they couldn't parent a child with hearing loss, leading her to again make a choice to parent or find a new family.  It is also the story of the birth father, whose stories often go untold.  You learn about his emotions and the reasons behind his choices.  The final part revolved around after Brandi and her family adopt Zoe and their relationship with her birth families.

I really enjoyed this book.  It had me hooked from the very beginning.  Learning about Brandi's struggles, reading about the Birth parents and finally learning how it all came together in the end.  I loved that everything came full circle and it was great having all the different perspectives.  I wasn't too psyched about some of the adoption agency's practices but I'm glad things worked out in the end. Highly recommended.