Do you believe in serendipity? Believe it, things happen for a reason. When you act on feelings in your heart and not from your head, you’re primed for doom much of the time. This is not one of those stories! I’ll admit it started that way, after three breakups and starting all over again. This due to listening to others foretell our future. Instead we relied on the hypnotic formula produced by true love and cruised on autopilot…Now all those soothsayers are the ones divorced and we’re headed for twenty-three unbelievable years. Our story is a fairy tale due to the struggles and hardships that evaporate to a magic romantic journey.
It was love at first sight for Bridget and me. From the moment our eyes first glanced at each other, the excitement and butterflies were in rhythm. Not withstanding the obvious mismatches of age disparity (twenty-eight for me vs. her twenty), educational levels (U of I grad vs. no college) and religious differences (Jewish and Italian).
We proved everyone wrong by believing in ourselves. What we had to overcome is what creates the “Hollywood story”.
First there was my mononucleosis which bedridden me for over two months. I nearly succumbed. Then my 3-month funk brought on by my Dad’s sudden demise (freak auto accident). My wife suffered the devastating disease of Multiple Sclerosis. She went from running on the beach on our honeymoon in Hawaii, to one day loosing her balance. She digressed to a cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair and now an electric wheelchair. It’s a difficult disease with no known cause and no known cure. A good day is one in which your illness stays the same.
Then came our disappointment of becoming parents, the main reason we married in the first place. Three years of fertility treatments for both of us. I had three separate surgeries, one of which lasted five and half-hours. One doctor actually told me I would never be a father and I who have never had a physical fight in my life, in frustration punched out a wall and broke my hand. My darling wife had to undergo numerous fertility medications and needle injections, countless ultrasounds and invitro fertilizations, with painful negative results everytime. It was a drain on our time, our nerves and our financial resources on basically one paycheck. Our hopes and aspirations grew dimmer each day.
We don’t give up easily and determined that adoption was the next step. We put ads in newspapers after conferring with reliable adoption attorneys. Futile results ensued. Who would give a child up to someone in a wheelchair? Our own parents were against us becoming parents. The nightmare continued when both of the prominent adoption lawyers we contacted were later jailed for deceiving their clients.
We trudged on when we looked into international adoption. With our unique circumstances, I directly contacted the Governor of Illinois, Jim Edgar at the time and with his direction hooked on with a reputable adoption agency. We again had to prove ourselves worthy to be parents. This course of action took approximately another three years. Aside from the mounds of paperwork, lie detector tests, fingerprinting, tax records, home studies, courses and every last cent we had and then some. We had to get special permission from the Madam of China because I would have to travel alone for two to three weeks. The trip was unadvisable because of my wife’s condition. I took a parenting class at a local hospital and off to China I went. This is the only time my wife and I have ever been separated. By the way, I forgot to mention the rare form of lymphoma I developed previous to receiving our daughter. The doctor gave me up to five years to live. We were devastated. With me gone, my wife, her life….
Do you believe in miracles? We did and I made it through with eighteen radiation treatments and now hospitals want to do research on me to understand how I survived. Anyway I told you we had bumps and grinds along the way. Our daughter, who was 10 months old and weighed only eleven lbs. when I got her, had a scar around her ankle, which now disappeared eight years later. You may have read how girls aren’t respected in China and they have over five thousand orphanages and only so much help, so sometimes the child is tied down, well you don’t want to hear the rest. Rest assured they do the best they can under the circumstances and we will be forever grateful to these people. Our daughter Mandy Kauai is all we could ever ask for and then some. She has been featured in newspapers, television and radio for her many good deeds and talents.
We’ve won the love lottery. All the money in the world is no match for what we have! I’m still Snuggles and Bridget’s still Giggles. If others have a better marriage than we do, then God blesses them too! We’re inseparable, we’re a team, and we are best friends. Best of all we don’t have to put on an act, just be ourselves. We share a unique call sign with each other. Our anniversary date 9/16. Twice each day the clock strikes 9:16. Our thoughts turn to each other. First word out is ditto, the other’s response is, I love you more. Sounds silly but not to us. 9/16 was also the date the Madam of China granted us permission to adopt. In conclusion, if I had to do over again, would I? It’’ a no brainer. Thank you for letting us share our story
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