Brandi Rarus knows what it feels like to hear and to be deaf. She has lived in both worlds. When she contracted meningitis at 6-years-old, her world shifted from communicating with words to a blend of language that included signing, reading lips and speaking. While her book is titled Finding Zoe and recounts the beautiful story of her daughter’s adoption, it almost feels like two books.
In the first half of the book, Brandi shares her own story. Her experience of being hearing and then deaf gave her a unique perspective unlike that of most deaf people who have hearing loss from birth. Some of her time was spent among hearing friends and other time among the deaf. Eventually, as a teenager, she had to make the choice of which world she would live in as it would determine the rest of her life. Tired of missing out on conversations and catching only some of what was said around her through lip reading, she chose to go to a deaf school and then a deaf college. In so doing, she submerged herself in the Deaf Culture and began to embrace their values. It was very interesting to learn about being deaf through her eyes. Her perspective gave me a better appreciation for their daily lives and some of the advances they have made through the years. As she told her story, she wove in the history of deaf people which was both tragic and enlightening.
The second half of her book is almost magical, as Brandi shares the events that led her and her husband Tim to adopt their deaf daughter Zoe into their family which already included three hearing sons. As a person of faith, she carefully weaves together Zoe’s story, seeing the hand of God’s provision through it all. While many adoption stories are amazing, what I really liked about this one is that Brandi took the time to go back and collect the stories of the birth mother, birth father, foster parents, first adoptive parents and placement worker. She took the time to understand each one’s unique perspective and valued how their stories were woven together. Brandi and Tim’s own stories and their familiarity with deaf culture made their family absolutely ideal for a child with Zoe’s needs.
This book is an excellent one whether it is read for the insights into deaf culture or the adoption process. It is filled with hope and grace as details are shared in a loving and edifying way. Brandi’s way of sharing about each person’s contribution to their adoption was really honoring. As an adoptive parent myself, I appreciated how she acknowledged each person’s struggles, empathized with their desires and gracefully dealt with their weaknesses. Anyone who reads this book will surely be touched. I highly recommend it!
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by BenBella Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.