This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue Columbia Magazine, page 25. Kevin DiCamillo is a freelance writer and editor in northern New Jersey, and is a member of the Don Bosco Knights of Columbus Council 4960 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Seeking to adopt a child following medical difficulties, a Knights of Columbus couple received an unexpected gift.
After my wife, Alicia, and I were married, we were looking forward to welcoming the children that God would send to our family. Yet we never expected the challenges that we confronted when I was diagnosed with cancer. Following surgery and months of radiation, doctors told us that we would not be able to conceive. Amid the heartbreak, we began to explore adoption.
We checked out private agencies for domestic and foreign adoption, but chose a more affordable option close to home: the New Jersey state adoption agency. After spending thousands of dollars on my cancer treatments, this seemed like the most sensible path. As with most things in life, there were good and bad aspects, and in the end, we received a surprise that only God could have arranged.
The process began when a social worker came to our home with a big book of photos and information on the children available. The process was agonizing: The children were almost all over 5 years old, and many had physical or intellectual disabilities. My wife and I felt awful and almost un-Christian declining one child after another, because we had our own mental picture of what our child should look like. But we also had to be realistic and realize that with my precarious health and our financial situation, we could not responsibly adopt a child with special needs. It didn’t seem right to adopt out of a sense of obligation or guilt, and we didn’t want to do something just to make ourselves look like heroes to the world.
Like many other adoptive parents, we had our hearts set on an infant whom we could raise as our own from the crib. The social workers with whom we worked didn’t hold out much hope of this happening due to the high abortion rate and the dwindling stigma attached to teen pregnancy that has resulted in more young mothers keeping their babies.
Although I continued to hope and pray, I demurred when a state counselor called me at work and said, “We have newborn twins from Peru, but born right here in Passaic!” I said in response, “My wife and I can’t afford to raise twins, but thanks for calling.” Five minutes later, my wife called to say she had gotten the same call, but her reaction was very different: “Isn’t this great?” she cried. “Twins! A boy and a girl! This is perfect!”
I tried to explain to her that we simply did not have the money and energy to raise twins. One child would stretch us; twins, I feared, would break us. We failed to resolve our differences over the phone, and our disagreement continued that evening when a state worker came to our home. Finally, the counselor said, “Tomorrow, go to the hospital and either leave with both twins or neither.”
Little did I suspect in my stubbornness that the Holy Spirit was working in a mysterious way.
The next day, when I found out that my wife had called the agency and asked for the twins to be brought to our house, I was upset, uncertain and prepared to hold my ground. Yet when I saw those 6-day-old babies asleep on our bed, God touched my heart and made it one with my wife’s. It didn’t matter where these sweet babies came from; or how we’d ever afford both of them; or that we’d have the state in our home for monthly inspections. They were ineluctably ours.
Suddenly, I was a father twice over. We immediately called our pastor, who came over to baptize the infants in case the state decided to take them back. Seven years later, Agnes and Giovanni Paolo are now preparing for their first Communion.
Somehow we are making it work. My wife works nights as a respiratory therapist while I work from home and care for the kids. Through it all, I have learned to accept God’s unexpected blessings.
Find additional articles and resources for Catholic men and their families at www.fathersforgood.org.