Our Story

I'm Lillian Godone-Maresca. I could write a whole book about my family, and actually intend to do so--but for now I'm just trying to give a quick overview of the wonderful, amazing, awesome, incredible family I have and always had.

Perhaps I should clarify that even though I'm widowed and therefore a single applicant, when it comes to adoption I always use the plural due to how totally, absolutely, completely involved my Mom and my three older (biological) children were and are in each and all of the processes.

My daughter and twin sons do for their younger brothers more than any parent may imagine, expect, ask for, or even dream about. Rather than having to request their help, quite often I must remind them that they shouldn't be doing so very must.

My Mom, E. Nydia Soracco-Godone, was called by the Lord on September 1, 2012.  She was not a mother whom I used to see on Easter, Christmas, birthdays, and family events, but one to whom I've been near all my life. She was a mother who gave up a brilliant career as a literature professor and lecturer in order to devote her entire life to me and then to her grandkids. She was a mother who deemed the international adoption expenses, first from Haiti and then from Bulgaria, with two failed adoptions from Russia and Uzbekistan in between, to be more important than her own mobility and eyesight. As she had never worked in U.S., Medicare would have charged her a sizable monthly premium--whcih she could have afforded, though. Or she could have paid out of pocket for cataracts and knee replacement surgeries--but she preferred to see more grandchildren come home. She preferred to contribute to the international adoption expenses the monies that could have saved her vision and the use of her legs. Even after finding herself almost blind and in a wheelchair, she never had any regrets. Ironicaly, when Medicare became available to her at no cost, those surgeries were no longer possible because her heart was already too weak.
That was a sacrifice that only a saint could have made--and now that saint is watching us from Heaven. I have the bad habit of going to my computer during night hours. Instead of just abandoning herself to a good night's sleep, my Mom used to keep awake in order to call me periodically from her cell phone to make sure I had not fallen asleep on my computer chair and had not ended up smashing my head on the floor. After her passage to Eternity, one day in November 2012 I had turned on the stove in order to prepare a coffee for me. I fell asleep at the computer. Three hours elapsed. At exactly 4:17 a.m. in the morning, Thomas, one of my sons, appeared by my side. I asked him if he was cold. He was not. I asked him if he had had a bad dream He had not. He had dreamed with Grandma instead. Then he rushed into the kitchen, and came back to tell me he had not touched anything , but the stove was on and the kettle looked all black. I remembered about the coffee I had never actually prepared. The water had evaporated---but I arrived to turn off the stove before anything worse could have happened--and was even able to save the kettle!!! Who had waken up Thomas for him to wake me up? He had dreamed about Grandma. My Mom could no longer called me on her cell phone--but from Above she had called me one more time, now in a different way. I feel so very guilty for all the times when I complained and complained that she took too much care of me.

It is also striking that my daughter and twin sons have vowed that none of their younger siblings will ever end up in a group home. Several times I tried to tell them that if something happened to me they didn't need to feel they had to sacrifice their own dreams and goals for the sake of their younger brothers--and every single time the three of them looked at me appalled: they would never turn their backs on any of their siblings. They would never fall in love with anyone who expected them to do so and didn't arrive to love their brothers as well.
Some people think of that as too big of a burden for Catherine and the twins. Yet, that's something that makes them happy, something they want to do. Besides, the steadiness of their commitment makes me be at ease not only for the younger ones, but for my older ones also because if at any point life vicissitudes were to hit one of them harder than the others, it is for sure that the one hardest hit will never be alone.
These are my children:
Catherine, 26 (biological). Has a master's and almost a Ph.D., works with children with special needs--and does have a very special place in her heart for special kids. She lives at home in order to help. She spends an inordinate amount of time looking for the pefect educational toy to target a specific skill for each one of her younger brothers whom she loves with all her soul.

Gerard and Warren, biological twin sons, 16. They act more like fathers than older siblings to their younger brothers. They are aleady full-time college students, commuting from home. They took their first community class course at the age of 10, and both of them did amazingly well in the class. Yet, much more important than that is to mention that their course selection was sign language, thinking that it could be a good alternate method of communication for Nicholas, whose adoption, together with Thomas', was still in process from Haiti at the time--not due to deafness but to articulation problems resulting from his c.p. (cerebral palsy). In their Common Application for college admission, as their counselor, I stated that although they were only 14 at the time, they had already been C.N.A.'s, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech pathology assistants, ESL instructors, child care workers, homework couches, and temper tantrum sootheners to their yonger brothers, technical support staff and graphic art designers for me, and problem solvers all over the house.

Thomas, 11, adopted from Haiti and home since mid 2008. Has mild c.p. Thomas is totally bonded into our family and has a very loving and friendly disposition. Although his gait is slightly uneven, he walks perfectly fine, and runs as fast as the wind. His right hand has very limited mobility. Thomas loves to help, is kind, and even with significant academic challenges, has an innate ability to do the right thing in social occasions.

Nicholas, 11, adopted from Haiti concurrently with Thomas, but not his twin. Has mild c.p. Nicholas is also fully bonded as well as extremely affectionate and kind. Against all odds, all on his own he learned to walk--only due to his very strong determination. Nicholas has very poor articulation is his speech is difficult to understand--but he doesn't give up. The same as Thomas, he loves to share.

Stephen, 10, adopted from Bulgaria and home since Dec. 2010. Stephen has spina bifida, but his shining, outgoing, larger-than-life pesonality makes others almost not to even notice his wheelchair. Stephen is also completely bonded. Although dealing with some anger issues, he's affectionate, seeks human contact, is honest, and wouldn't hurt a fly.

Maximilian, 10, became legally my son on October 23, 2012, when the Bulgarian court granted his adoption, together with Philip's. The two of them are still in Bulgaria and I'm traveling in January to pick them up and bring them home. Maximilian is a very loving and lovable child who makes strong attachments. Due to c.p. he uses a wheelchair. He is very affectionate, and, the same as his brothers, has a very noble attitude in the face of his physical challenges, totally free from any resentment of envy of any kind.

Philip, 7, is also legally mine as well since last October, waiting to be picked up and brought home. Philip has mild c.p. as well, is very affectionate, and has unlimited potential. He can put a puzzle together faster than I can.

We are devout Roman Catholics, and our faith is a pivotal source of strength in everyday life. It is also the reason why we relentlessly support the sanctity of human life, equality, and social justice. It is the reason why since very early childhood I was taught by word and example by my parents and grandparents to see Jesus in the homeless and the hungry, to welcome the immigrant and reach out to anyone in need or distress. On one hand I had a very privileged upbringing and was taught all the etiquette rules. On the other, though, and much more emphatically, was always taught that social sensitivity and social justice should take precedence over socio-economic status and social profile. On one hand I had a very well-rounded education, but on the other, far from having parents who were busy socialites, I had parents and grandparents who were totally, absolutely, completely, unconditionally devoted to me. On one hand I was raised with the strictest family values, but on the other I was taught to be open to people from all walks of life. I was only 15 or 16 when my mom told me that to point at a single mother with an accusatory finger was tantamount to promoting abortion.

My three older children are relentless advocates for the sanctity of human life, for the poor, the disabled, the immigrant, and the oppressed. Since the age of six they have been doing an extraordinary amount of volunteer work. They have been serving the homeless and clearing their trays after meals, sweeping manure from stables where horses are kept for equestrian therapy, selecting usable lumber from demolition debris to be shipped to Tijuana for an orphanage to expand its premises, playing bowling and having Easter egg hunts with the blind, reading to pre-schoolers in a Head-Start program, bagging and boxing edibles for different local food banks, visiting the elderly at two different nursing homes, participating in vigils in front of abortion clinics and Rosary walks for the unborn, and even helping a few times at a couple of animal shelters. Yet, no ostensible volunteer work can be comparable to the much more involved, much more committed, much more selfless one regularly done every single day behind closed doors in the anonymity of the family home for their younger brothers' sake. They do it enthusiastically, happily, cheerfully, with no cameras, no newspaper articles, no entries to add to their resumes. They do it without asking for anything in return. One lady put it in a beautiful and eloquent manner one day when as we were going back to our van after Mass she approached me and congratulated me on how my older children took so much care of my younger ones. Her words said it all, "I saw Jesus right there."

Besides the instance of my Mom and the almost burning kettle, I can prove another situation that shows how the intercession of those beloved ones who were called before us can help us when earthly resources seem to be of no use. In 2008, when the adoptions of Thomas and Nicholas from Haiti were finalized but still their visas needed to be issued, for no given or understandable reason the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince sent their files to another office from where they could take months or even years to return. We were in despair, praying and crying, crying and praying, not knowing what to do. One of those nights I dreamt that someone was knocking at our door. It was my Dad, who had passed away in 1993, holding Thomas and Nicholas--one in each one of his arms. As I opened the door, he told me, "I went to Haiti myself because it was the only way to bring them home to all of you." When I tried to hug my Dad one last time in my dream, he vanished--but in the morning I called the U.S. Consulate in Port-au-Prince. . . and everything was fine!!! Our boys' files were back, and within less than one week their visas had been issued and I was booking the tickets to pick them up. They will never be able to hug their Grandpa on this earth--but it is obvious that they were hugged by him already.

It's time to include a paragraph about me now:
By profession I'm an attorney, but work from home. My passion is far from being law at all, though. I wish I could use my law degree and license to help others, but am afraid I'm not good enough for that. I feel proud to be able to say that more than once, after realizing some errors I had made I voluntarily and spontaneously had the courage and integrity to claim ineffective assistance of counsel against myself many times in order to make sure my clients' interests wouldn't get damaged. I love writing, have an innate talent for it, and feel a strong call for advocacy and public speaking. I self-published the following books:
Etiquette for All
The Wonders of Homeschooling
Poetry to Serve the King Who Came to Serve
Stories to Serve the King Who Came to Serve

Thanks for your interest in this long post.

God bless,

 Lillian Godone-Maresca

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