Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman's Story of Identity, Love, and Adoption by Gail Harris and Brandi Rarus with a foreword by Marlee Matlin
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books (October 7, 2014)
At just a few months old, Zoe was gradually losing her hearing. Her adoptive parents loved her—yet agonized—feeling they couldn’t handle raising a Deaf child. Would Zoe go back into the welfare system and spend her childhood hoping to find parents willing to adopt her? Or, would she be the long-sought answer to a mother’s prayers?
Brandi Rarus was just 6 when spinal meningitis took away her hearing. Because she spoke well and easily adjusted to lip reading, she was mainstreamed in school and socialized primarily in the hearing community. Brandi was a popular, happy teen, but being fully part of every conversation was an ongoing struggle. She felt caught between two worlds—the Deaf and the hearing.
In college, Brandi embraced Deaf Culture along with the joys of complete and effortless communication with her peers. Brandi went on to become Miss Deaf America in 1988 and served as a spokesperson for her community. It was during her tenure as Miss Deaf America that Brandi met Tim, a leader of the Gallaudet Uprising in support of selecting the university’s first Deaf president. The two went on to marry and had three hearing boys—the first non-deaf children born in Tim’s family in 125 years.
Brandi was incredibly grateful to have her three wonderful sons, but couldn’t shake the feeling something was missing. She didn’t know that Zoe, a six-month-old Deaf baby girl caught in the foster care system, was desperately in need of a family unafraid of her different needs. Brandi found the answer to her prayers when fate brought her new adopted daughter into her life.
Set against the backdrop of Deaf America, Finding Zoe is an uplifting story of hope, adoption, and everyday miracles.
About the Author
Deaf since age six after contracting spinal meningitis, Brandi Rarus could speak and read lips, but felt caught between the deaf and hearing world--fitting into neither. When she realized you don't need to hear to live a fulfilled life, she became empowered and was chosen as Miss Deaf America. From signing the National Anthem at a Chicago Cubs game to speaking at corporate conferences, Brandi traveled the country speaking out for deaf children and building awareness of what it means to be Deaf. She married Tim Rarus, an advocate for Deaf people whose work inspired the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. Together, they have paved the way to bring new technologies that promote equal access in communication. Brandi and Tim live in Austin, Texas, with their four children: three hearing boys and the youngest, Zoe, a Deaf girl they adopted. Today, Brandi and her family are tirelessly dedicated to ensuring all children find their rightful place in our world. Award-winning writer and teacher of the intuitive process, Gail Harris has experienced the joy of adopting a child. She brings her knowledge of the adoption process and in-vitro fertilization to this book, along with her ability to articulate from a hearing person's perspective what is fascinating about the Deaf experience. In the four years that it took to write Finding Zoe, Gail conducted more than 75 interviews to uncover. Gail is the author of Your Heart Knows the Answer and a featured blogger on several popular parenting blogs. She lives with her husband and son in Framingham, MA.