At just a few months old, Zoe was gradually losing her hearing. Her adoptive parents loved heryet agonizedfeeling they couldn't handle raising a Deaf child. Would Zoe go back into the welfare system and spend her childhood hoping to find parents willing to adopt her? Or, would she be the long-sought answer to a mother's prayers?
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 worldsthe 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 boysthe 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.
Set against the backdrop of Deaf America, Finding Zoe is an uplifting story of hope, adoption, and everyday miracles.
About the Author
Brandi Rarus lost her hearing at age 6 after contracting spinal meningitis. From signing the National Anthem at a Chicago Cubs game to speaking at corporate conferences, she has traveled the country speaking out for Deaf children and building awareness of what it means to be Deaf.
Brandi's roots in advocacy began in 1988 when she marched to Capitol Hill with thousands of people representing the Deaf community in the Deaf President Now movement. The protest paved the way for the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, and changed the course of every deaf person's life. Today, Brandi is an executive with Communication Service for the Deaf, the largest nonprofit, worldwide organization serving the Deaf and hard of hearing community.
Brandi and her husband Tim live in Austin, Texas, with their four children: three hearing boys and the youngest, Zoe, their adopted Deaf daughter. Brandi and her family are tirelessly dedicated to ensuring all children find their rightful place in our world.
Award-winning writer and teacher of the intuitive process, Gail Harris has experienced the joy of adopting a child. She brings her knowledge of the adoption process and in-vitro fertilization to this book, along with her ability to articulate from a hearing person's perspective what is fascinating about the Deaf experience. In the four years that it took to write Finding Zoe, Gail conducted more than 75 interviews to uncover. Gail is the author of Your Heart Knows the Answer and a featured blogger on several popular parenting blogs. She lives with her husband and son in Framingham, MA.
"Finding Zoe is a heartwarming story about identity, self-acceptance, and love . . . Attending RIT/NTID after growing up as Brandi and I did, in hearing families and mainstream schools, is truly life-altering. Brandi beautifully captures the joy of finally fitting in, feeling at home and finding yourself."
Dr. Gerard J. Buckley, President of National Technical Institute for the Deaf
"The journey in Finding Zoe is captivating and inspirational, and above all, a story about doing what is right for our children, as well as ourselves, no matter how difficult and then seeing all of the pieces fall miraculously into place. Finding Zoe is a joy to watch unfold."
Jill Smokler, New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of a Scary Mommy and Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies)
"A must-read for any adoptive parent, or anyone considering adoption. Brandi Rarus's story of Finding Zoe is an amazing reminder that the power of love overcomes life's most challenging obstacles and nothing can stand in the way of what's meant to be."
Mary Donahue, Senior Vice President of Non-Fiction at Lifetime Television Network and adoptive parent
"Just as my character on Switched at Birth has helped to expose the Deaf community for what it really is to our mainstream TV audience, so too does Finding Zoe break down the barriers between the hearing and Deaf communities by showing Deaf Culture in ways never seen before . . . Bravo to Finding Zoe."
Sean Berdy, actor on the ABC TV hit series Switched at Birth and Peabody Award Recipient
"Finding Zoe shines an unbiased light on teen pregnancy, adoption, and the sacrifice parents make to find the best home for their children. A must-read for teenagers and their parents, or for anyone else who may be contemplating their choices for an unintended pregnancy."
Jan and Bob Charnecki, founders of Options Pregnancy Center
"A work of both heart and mind, driven by the authors' passions to describe our rich history as deaf people, that paved the way for deaf children like Zoe...a book that both deaf and hearing people have longed for."
Greg Hlibok, student leader of the Deaf President Now protest at Gallaudet University
"This isn't just a book for people interested in adoption; it's an inspiring story that will touch the heart of anyone with a connection to children and familieswhich is to say, almost everyone."
Adam Pertman, Executive Director of Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of Adoption Nation
"This really hits home The story of a deaf baby who finds her way to a deaf family and embraces her culture and language. A great introduction to the Deaf community."
Chris Wagner, President of National Association of the Deaf