Portrait of a Family

Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences and perspectives. 

Portrait of a Family
By Carlotta, Bob, and Moriah Levy

She Is My Daughter by Carlotta Levy

I’ll start by telling you a story about a little girl. The little girl’s birth mother was addicted to drugs, and so the baby girl was separated from her at birth. The baby was born addicted to crack cocaine and was placed in her first foster home. That foster mother was not accustomed to a tiny baby that was detoxing terrible drugs from her system.

The baby girl screamed and cried a lot. That foster mother shook the crying baby so hard that the baby suffered bleeding on her brain and several broken ribs. The county took the little girl away from that foster mother. The next home she was placed in was a safer home, although the baby spent most of her time alone in a crib or car seat. Her bottle was propped up to feed her. She was not held very often.

The third home she was placed in was a Foster/Adopt home. This family had two little boys, and they wanted a little girl. Although this family did not know what the little girl’s life would be like, they welcomed her into their home. Her development was very delayed and the family thought she might be deaf. The doctor said she would possibly never be able to walk.

The family in the third home fell in love with her…they prayed for her…and they got her all the professional help they could.

When she was three, they enrolled the little girl into ballet classes. She flourished when she was dancing!  At the age of thirteen, she became part of the Ballet Company — the same little girl that doctors said said might not walk. In junior high, she joined the choir — the same little girl they said might be deaf. When she started high school, she joined the dance team and by her senior year, she was the captain!

That little girl is now a twenty-two-year-old young lady.  Not only does she walk and talk, but she sings and dances with The Young Americans performing group and travels all over the world teaching children that they matter. I know so much about that little girl, because that little girl is my daughter, Moriah!

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Daddy’s Girl by Bob Levy

Nothing can bring a man to his knees like his little girl. My story is a little different. I’m a guy. I like “guy stuff.” My wife wanted a little girl that she could dress and shop with and do “girl stuff” with.

I had a daughter through a previous marriage and was still quite heartbroken that she wasn’t in my daily life like she was when she was 6 years old.

Adopting was not really on my radar, even though I myself had been in foster care. But one miraculous day, God flicked a switch in me, and I knew foster care was what I was supposed to do. I sat through the parenting classes, a little tongue in cheek, but really  — anyone who thinks they know everything about parenting, really knows nothing about parenting, so I listened and learned.

When we were called with word about a little seven-month-old girl, we dashed out of the house like my wife’s water had just broken, so excited to see this little baby. As we knocked on the door, I envisioned a woman coming to the door with a little precious girl dressed in a little yellow dress with booties to match.

What we were met with was a lady who looked like she couldn’t care less. She said, “this way” and led us to Moriah’s room. Again, I had envisioned a room with a “Winnie the Pooh” theme and stuffed animals.

What we got was a stark white room with a crib with all the comfort of a cage. There lay this unresponsive little girl in a white tee-shirt and diaper that both needed to be changed. We didn’t know why she didn’t respond.

Usually when a baby recognizes that there is someone there, they kick their little legs with the joy that telegraphs, “pick me up!” Maybe it was because there were five other babies under age two that needed attention. Maybe it was because she had seen so many adults go by and not pick her up that she gave up hope. I don’t really know, but what I do know is that it didn’t matter to us.

All we knew was that we had love to give and she needed it. So, throwing all reason to the wind, we said, “We’ll take her!”

From that day forward, she came with all the challenges that we expected. She didn’t like being held, and she was delayed. So much so, that we weren’t sure if she was deaf. But we did what you do when you love someone. You take care of them.

And slowly, but surely, this little rosebud that was closed so tight that you could not tell the color of her petals, started to open up and bloom. Her muscles started to relax, she started to laugh and smile and do all the things that little girls do to wrap their daddies around their little fingers. My favorite picture is of me and Moriah at the father/daughter dance in elementary school.

From seven months old until now at twenty-two years old, I can’t help but tear up every time  I see her dance and sing. She is and will always be my little girl.

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The Most Difficult Time In My Life by Moriah Levy

Being a teenager in high school is one of the toughest times in anyone’s life, but my sophomore year was the hardest. Going to school, participating in a sport, managing homework, going to church and trying to have a social life is nearly impossible.

With all the stress from dance, teachers, coaches, social media and family, is there ever even a time to breathe? Truthfully, ever since I was a baby, I have struggled with asthma. My birth mother did drugs and I was born premature, and even though I’m older and have become much more healthy, when I get a cold, it turns into asthma!

My sophomore year was no different. During this time, I had no clue how to manage all of those stressful things and I didn’t know what  I was going to do. I started to lose hope and motivation to do anything.

The most stress came with dance. It was my number one priority. It was my passion, what I lived for. That year, the team had so many challenges with drama from team members and difficult coaches. I wanted to give up and just walk away. I felt useless and horrible and lost all my drive to dance. I didn’t think anyone even cared about me.

Except my parents – they have always been there for me. They adopted me, a very fragile seven-month-old baby. I had been abused by my first foster mother. She shook me so hard that I had broken ribs and bleeding on my brain. When I came to my parents, I was so delayed they didn’t know if I was deaf or if I would ever even walk. My mother put me in ballet at the age of three. She pushed me then like she was pushing me now. Every time I wanted to quit, she wouldn’t let me.

I have always been taught that to succeed you must fail.  Going through events in life where you can’t even find the strength to keep moving forward are the times that you grow as a person. By pushing through the pain from dance and all the stress from school, I learned so much.

I now understand that if I didn’t push through back then, I would not be where I am today. Even with my health struggles and asthma, I had to push through.  During all of the struggling, I realized how much I had changed as a person.  I learned that you must keep working for what you want and not back down or give up or you will never get anywhere.

My senior year I became the Varsity Dance Team Captain and made it into the highest choir of my school. I was also accepted into The Young Americans Performing Arts College. If I had quit my passions in my sophomore year, my life would be very different.  Now I travel all over the world helping other children push through and learn that they too can make a difference. I’ll never give up.

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Carlotta is a foster/adopt mom and a realtor in Southern CA.  Her husband, Bob Levy, works for Fosterall, a non-profit that recruits and supports foster and adoptive families.  Moriah is a successful singer/dancer with The Young Americans performing group. 

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Carrie Goldman is the host of Portrait of an Adoption. She is an award-winning author, speaker, and bullying prevention educator. Follow Carrie’s blog Portrait of an Adoption on Facebook and Twitter

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