On March 16th, nearly three months after leaving the hospital, we took Santiago home. He was five months old. I felt like I never lost my connection to him. I needed to hold him in my arms again for the first time.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina ꟷ While working as a nurse in the Mater Dei Sanatorium, I cared for a baby with Down Syndrome named Santiago. On November 1, 2012, I took the afternoon shift. Santiago lay in his crib alone, even after all the medical check-ups were complete. Settled into their own recovery room, his mother and father refused to see him.
The staff and I felt shocked as the days passed with no change. The couple ultimately abandoned Santiago, until the court intervened. Santiago became my patient and my professional boundaries vanished as I witnessed his absolute vulnerability. I decided to apply to adopt him.
The first time I saw Santiago’s tender, loving eyes, I loved him. In fact, the staff at the Sanitorium and colleagues from other sectors often came to see him. Our affection grew the moment we interacted with this baby boy. He filled me with love and joy.
A number of people emerged who wanted to adopt Santiago. I discussed it with my partner, and we reached an agreement to move forward. The courts determined Santiago would be released from the hospital on December 27, two months after his birth. They created a list of people interested in becoming his parents. I signed up, but soon discovered from a colleague, the court sought to place him in a transit home temporarily. My mind flooded with worry about him being in an ugly and desolate environment.
I went to the courthouse with my mother and knocked on the door. The judge’s secretary greeted me. I offered to be a temporary guardian. We embarked on a tedious and complicated process. In each interview, they told me they identified people better qualified, and I should consider adopting someone else. They cited my long work hours and hectic schedule as a nurse. I felt discriminated against.
One day, I received a call from the court. I thought they wanted to conduct another interview. At the courthouse, the judge asked my partner and I why we thought he called us. I felt gun shy due to previous experiences and responded, “I don’t know.” The judge told me, after prioritizing my bond with Santiago, I would be his mother. Tears filled my eyes and I felt my chest warm up. I could not contain my happiness. In a few days, I would see my son.
On March 16th, nearly three months after leaving the hospital, we took Santiago home. By now, he was five months old. During all that time, I felt like I never lost my connection to him. I looked forward to seeing how my partner and I bonded with Santiago as a family. This was the moment. I needed to hold him in my arms again for the first time. I never stopped thinking about him. As an adoptive mother, I had no access to a typical maternity leave, so I took time off without pay to get organized.
My partner also took a year off after Santi’s arrival. Being parents of a child with Down Syndrome, we had to reorganize our whole household to accommodate therapies. My parents offered unconditional support.
Words cannot describe my connection with Santi. I grew fond of him in the Sanatorium and love him as my son. We face difficult parenting moments, but Santiago does everything the same as any other 10-year-old. He goes to school, plays, attends doctor’s appointments, receives psychological support, and lots of love.
The greater difficulties come from the legal and administrative process. Our country remains unprepared for all the aspects of adoption. It needs to be less complicated and tedious and must address abuse in the system. Adoptive parents and children alike experience vulnerability and lack of empathy. Adopting a child with a disability is not the problem.
I intend to use my experience to make these issues more visible, improve the system, and help families. Today, when a child with Down Syndrome is born in the Sanitorium, I talk with and advise the families, helping them through the process.
Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.
Pledge to be a #ConsciousCitizen today and demand #GlobalCooperationNow! by signing this petition. Sign Our Petition.