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After Tracy adopted Hannah she adopted Noah, who was three and half years old with severe cerebral palsy. Tracy drove to Baton Rouge, Louisiana with Caleb and Hannah in tow to pick up Noah. On the way home, Tracy discovered that Noah also had Pica, a disorder which causes the patient to eat non-nutritive substances, such as dirt or articles of clothing.
Noah had to be watched constantly. The five and a half years that he lived in Tracy’s home, she calls the most challenging of her life.
With Tracy on the journey to Louisiana were two reporters from a local newspaper, who were assigned to follow her for a year in order to do an in depth feature story on her life. Unfortunately, that article was never published due to budget cuts by the newspaper.
After Noah came Luke, who still lives with Tracy today. Luke has arthrogryposis, a disorder which causes the limbs to freeze in utero and remain stiff after birth. Luke uses a motorized wheelchair when he’s not at home. In the house he scoots about with speed and agility. He’s a computer whiz, Tracy, and Luke helps with the sound system in the church.
Then came Zion, who was born without the femur in both legs and without the humerus bone in both arms. Like Luke, Zion had a quick mind. Thinking that he and Luke would be good for each other influenced Tracy’s decision to adopt Zion, and he and Luke quickly developed a strong bond. Zion had a tracheotomy when he came into Tracy’s life. Sadly, he passed away when he was just 10 months old.
A year after Zion died, Tracy learned of a baby girl in Boston who was reportedly blind and addicted to heroin at birth. Tracy drove to Boston to bring Rachel Lilliana, named after Tracy’s grandmother, home. “She was such a cute baby, with her bright red hair and blue eyes. I took her home, and when I moved around, her eyes followed me. She was tracking! She wasn’t blind,” Tracy recalls the joy she felt.
Tracy then took Tate, with spina bifida, her only child from a foster home. While waiting for his adoption to be processed, she also agreed to take Seth, with a cardiac condition. Tate’s physical condition and his temperament were more than Tracy could manage alone, and Seth needed constant medical care. Tracy felt she could not cope with the risk of losing another child. “I can’t even describe what it’s like to have a child die,” she explained. First Tate was placed with another family, and then Seth was adopted by the same family. Within a year, both passed away. Tracy believes that something told her not to try to sustain these two children, protecting her emotionally.
Time went on, and Tracy received a call about a baby boy in Georgia. She prayed for a sign from God to tell her whether she should take this child. As she was having coffee one morning in her regular coffee shop, she noticed that the flavor of the day was “Southern Pecan.” She knew at once that Benjamin Zion, as she later named him, was meant for her. He was bright but very ill. Because he was dependent on a tracheotomy and ventilator, Tracy felt a strong bond with this boy. However, Tracy had to make the terrible decision to take him off life after he suffered severe brain damage from seizures. Benjamin died in her arms in May 2013.
Today, Tracy lives with Luke Jean (spelled like her mother’s name and pronounced john) to sound like her father’s, and mother’s), Rachel and their lively mixed terrier, Leah. Rachel is a lively second-grader, and Luke is getting ready to enter middle school. Tracy is open with her children about their birth parents and vows to support their desire to know them. Although Caleb, Hannah and Noah are loving, affectionate children, and Luke and Rachel miss them, their physical needs make it necessary for them to live in care homes, where Tracy visits them regularly.
Tracy has used her gift of style to update and decorate her beautiful craftsman style home. In her spare time, she has installed wainscoting, ceiling tiles and a built-in curiosity cabinet. Asked if she will adopt again, she’s not sure. She has accomplished almost everything without help. Her greatest sources of support, she says, have been her faith, her church (Bethany United Methodist) and a network of adoptive parents of handicapped children. Although her greatest physical discomfort is arthritis, she realizes that age may make it difficult to keep up the same pace. Healed after her seven years with a tracheotomy, she recently started pursuing a new art, singing. She loves to travel and wants to expose Luke and Rachel to different places and cultures around the world.
Whatever her next pursuit, Tracy will undoubtedly use it for the benefit of others and the glory of God -- with passion, determination, gratitude and the belief that all things work for good.