When we adopted our son, I was so thrilled to finally have a little person in the house. I smiled when I stepped on dinosaurs in the bathroom. I loved it when Alan fell asleep while I was reading a story to him. I treasured singing to him when he went to bed at night.

Alan didn't say much when he was young (another feature of autism and developmental disability). He had a few words, but for a long time, he would not say "Mom" or "Dad". However, he did go around the house whispering. Finally, I got close enough to hear what he was saying - it was my name: "Debbie Goff".

Hence, my husband and most of my friends call me "Debbie Goff". Hey, it could be worse!

Finally, Alan began to talk, and liked to record himself on a cassette tape. One of his favorite things to do was to make, to put it delicately, "bodily function" soundtracks. Alan would make a rude noise - or several at once - then say " 'cuse me!" (for "excuse me"). This was a favorite with his cousins and friends. I have a wonderful picture of Alan and two of his cousins laughing hysterically over those tapes.

On one of the many tapes Alan made, he recited his memory verse from church, then somewhere in the background, I called his name. On this tape he can be heard saying "Yes, Mother? What Mother? I'll be right there Mother." I can't listen to that tape without tearing up, hearing that little voice, feeling that sense of complete joy at having Alan in our lives.

Adoption gave us the opportunity to be parents, with all the joys and challenges that go with that opportunity.

What does adoption mean to me? Once in a Bible study, the leader quoted a verse from scripture about how we have become God's children through adoption - calling him "Abba", which means "Daddy". The leader said, "Adoption is when you pick someone, you choose that person out of all the other children out there. That makes the adopted person so special."

"Yes, but that's not exactly the real picture of adoption," my husband observed. Adoption is God looking at us, and saying "I won't leave you like this. I won't leave you alone. You will be mine."

I think of Alan, on the floor, spinning scissors, interacting mainly with inanimate objects, in some ways completely alone because of his neurological challenges.

Now Alan calls us Mom and Dad. Alan calls us on the phone weekly, asking "What's the plan for this weekend?" He rubs his hands together with joy at the thought of seeing his extended family. He loves family reunions, where Great Aunts and Uncles and cousins embrace him and express pride in his accomplishments.

What a wonderful life we have had, and what a joy Alan is in our lives. The challenges we face as he has come to adulthood do not diminish that joy.


  1. This makes me smile. I can hear his voice in my mind. I never knew why Kenny called you "Debbie Goff." Now I know. Love your blogs!


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