Love Comes Full Circle
Updated: Jul 6
When I was a twenty-year-old university student, my roommate’s girlfriend, Ariane, used to bring around to the guys’ dorm her much younger adopted sister, Nadine (below, farthest right). I was fascinated by this little girl and liked to play with her.
“Why did your parents adopt when they already had kids of their own?” I stupidly asked Ariane; I like to think I was dumber then than I am now.
“The world is full of children who need homes,” she said. “You have no idea.” She was right on both counts.
Time marched on. I met Dana on a dare; we had a kid; I failed the Foreign Service Officer Test while Dana passed with an almost perfect score; and I ended up following her to India while she did my dream job. We wanted to have another kid, but the doctors said it wasn’t in the cards.
“I have what they call ‘secondary infertility,’” Dana sadly informed me after months of treatments and tests. For her, this felt like the end of the road, but, to me, it was simply time for Plan B.
Many years earlier, as I bounced little Nadine on my knee, the notion of adoption had been planted like a seed in my mind. When we got to India it weighed upon my mind. When I explained to Cole that the little girl his age carrying a naked baby and wading through choking traffic was not waving to him but rather begging him for food, when I shooed the children away in the market, when I saw kids going through our garbage—it weighed upon my mind.
And so, it was with a sense of destiny and even relief that I said to Dana, “The world is full of children who need homes. Why don’t we help one of them?”
We adopted an infant girl named Theekshana and shifted that name to the middle and called her Nina. Before you could say “home pregnancy test,” Dana became pregnant with #3, a bundle of cells we would name Sam and who would one day make for us twenty-two desserts in thirty days.
Several years went by, and Dana left the Foreign Service. We moved back to Texas and tried to live a normal life. I eventually left the stay-at-home-dad gig and got a job that paid actual money. I began volunteering for Caritas of Austin’s refugee resettlement program. I helped folks fleeing persecution in Burundi, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan and other places become productive Americans. Seeing my refugee clients succeed through sheer gumption and hard work gave me renewed confidence in the power of the American Dream.
One day, a young Afghan couple arrived from Iran. They were of the Hazara ethnic minority, a people who had long faced genocidal persecution under Afghanistan’s Taliban and other regimes. They had fled to Iran where, after living in limbo for years, they were granted asylum in the US. On the day they arrived, the wife of the family was very visibly pregnant with the couple’s first child.
With the help of social media, I organized an emergency baby shower. Our neighbors turned out in droves. Some attended the shower; others dropped off donations.
A young woman came to our door bearing gifts for the expectant couple. “I bet you don’t remember me,” she said kindly.
I was at a loss. “Sorry,” I said. “How do we know each other?”
“My sister Ariane was your college roommate’s girlfriend. I’m Nadine.”
I was momentarily speechless. Here I was, looking at the little girl—now a woman of around thirty in medical scrubs—who had inspired me to consider adoption.
“Hang on a sec,” I croaked.
I called Nina. A teen at the time, she came to the door with a bad attitude and an eye roll.
“I want you to meet someone,” I said.
Nina offered Nadine a weak, “Oh, hi.” They shook hands while I marveled at the moment.
As Nadine looked on, I explained to Nina how Nadine and her big sister Ariane had changed our lives forever.
“If it hadn’t been for Nadine, Mom and I might never have adopted you. And now, you're getting to meet her face to face.
"That’s actually pretty cool,” Nina said.
Nadine smiled. “Yeah, pretty cool,” she said.
Much later, when Nina was no longer a teen and I was once again cool-ish in her eyes, she said to me, "Dad, I want to adopt someday like you and mom did. After all, the world is full of children who need homes."