Monday, November 7, 2011

The Godone-Maresca Family

I would like to introduce you to a truly remarkable family: The Godone-Maresca Family.

I have had the wonderful privilege of getting to know Lillian Godone-Maresca over the past few years as we have both traversed the path of adopting from Bulgaria. Our family shares a special connection with the Godone-Maresca's because Alayna and Stephen, Maximilian and Philip Godone-Maresca were all together in the same orphanage in Bulgaria.

We rejoiced right along with them when they welcomed Stephen into their family and now we are fervently praying that they will be able to return to bring Maximilian and Philip home soon.

Please take the time to read their story (below), visit their blog and if so led, donate to their grant fund and help them bring Maximilian and Philip home. You will never meet a more loving, dedicated and determined family.

And now, allow me to turn the floor over to Lillian Godone-Maresca:

I am a very proud mother of six. My three older ones are biological, and my three younger ones are adopted internationally. Catherine is 25, and Gerard and Warren are 14-year-old twins. The three of them and my mother were, and are, full, unconditional participants in the adoption process to the extent that, even though being widowed and therefore a single applicant, when talking about adoption I never use “I” but “we”.

Thomas and Nicholas, both 10 but not twins, are adopted from Haiti. They are home since 2008. They both have cerebral palsy. They can walk, but Nicholas falls down very often. Even though his gait is slightly uneven, Thomas can run as fast as the wind. Nicholas has lots of things to say, but his expressive language is severely impaired by his articulation difficulties. Stephen, 9, was adopted from Bulgaria, and is home since last December 2010. He is extremely bright, with lots of potential. Due to spina bifida, he uses a wheelchair.

Lillian with Nicholas and Thomas in Haiti (2008)

Catherine, Gerard, and Warren do for their younger brothers much more than any parent may imagine, expect, ask for, or even dream about. They’re always ready and willing to assist their younger brothers with homework, hygiene, and any personal needs.

Catherine and Stephen

Our family is living proof that miracles do happen when love is unconditional and, most importantly, not just from the parent(s) but unanimously from all family members with no exception and no reservations. Children adopted at older ages may have some behavioral issues—but are also willing to respond to limitless love with love in return. Thomas, Nicholas, and Stephen are entirely bonded to us, and we’re one large loving family.

Lillian with Nicholas and Thomas

Yet, there is a big cloud in our happiness because of two other little boys, also from Bulgaria, whom we pray to add to our family very soon. Against the wishes of the wonderful placing agency, of the equally awesome Bulgarian attorney who works with them, against the wishes of the Bulgarian government, and against our desperate wishes, the local homestudy agency in CA considered its ‘waiting time’ policy more important than the well-being of those two waiting children and the happiness of all of us.

Those two little boys are 8 and 6, both with cerebral palsy but unaffected intellect. The older one is in a wheelchair. They have seen me, have been shown pictures of our family, and have been told I’d be their mom. Since a long time ago we wanted to move to the east coast due to more and better medical schools for the twins in the relatively near future (at 14, they finished high school and are applying to college) and better medical care for the younger ones. Yet, financially, it was not the right time to do it—but we all decided to take that big leap of faith and do it all the same for the sake of those two boys for whom we keep on praying together every single day. Nevertheless, there were some unforeseeable delays—and we’re running out of time. Our intention was to speed up the process—but in the end all I achieved with the move was to lengthen it even more.

Lillian with Maximilian and Philip in Bulgaria (2010)

My mother is now almost blind and in a wheelchair. She’s a retired professor of literature, but never worked in U.S. She did have the monies to pay directly for cataracts and knee replacement surgeries that MediCare would not cover unless with a very high premium—but she preferred her funds to go towards adoption fees and expenses, first from Haiti and then from Bulgaria. That’s a sacrifice that only a saint could have done—and despite all her pain and discomfort, she never had any regrets. Let’s pray that as long as those two little boys are concerned, her sacrifice won’t be rendered useless due to last-minute temporary financial

The Godone-Maresca Family (minus Maximilian and Philip) Christmas 2010

I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to talk in person and show you all the paperwork. It is
impossible to comprise every single detail in this brief summary—but do give you my word that everything is crystal clear, with no exaggeration or embellishment at all.

By profession I’m a lawyer. Yet, no matter how many years elapsed, the upbringing I received keeps on simultaneously inspiring me to view my career as a service to others and yet preventing me from having a Midas’ touch. On one hand, I had a very privileged, overprotected, pampered childhood, but on the other, both by word and example, my family always modeled for me the meaning of social sensitivity, social justice, and equality, in the light of the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. I end up representing cases for just pennies per hour—because that is how I was raised, and that became part of who I am. Within the measure of my limited possibilities, I don’t deny help to anyone—and yet in the past my family has helped others much more extensively than I myself ever did. When providing financial help to others became no longer possible, my three older children rolled up their sleeves and still gave back to the community by doing an extraordinary amount of volunteer work. They were featured sixteen times in the local media in San Diego due to their outstanding community service.

Warren and Stephen

Although my parents and grandparents modeled for me reaching out and humility when I was a child, I never fully grasped that second part. Something inside me always refused to be humble. Yet this is no time for pride. Too much is at stake now, and perhaps God is determined to teach me a lesson in humility after all. That’s why I’m gathering up the courage (or the nerve) to approach you and ask if you could eventually help in any way, with the clarification that no help is too small. As a token of gratitude for any contribution of any size, I offer either free legal advice or one (or more) of my four self-published books: on inspirational poetry, inspirational short stories, etiquette for children, and homeschooling. Also there is something you can always do for us: to join your prayers to ours for those two little boys to be able to come home.

From all our family and from the bottom of our hearts, thank you again,
Lillian Godone-Maresca

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