GRAYSLAKE – Jody Turcotte wanted to give her ill mother two things before she died: the chance to see her daughter walk down the aisle and the opportunity to hold a grandchild.
The first became a reality when Jody and Brian Turcotte took less than a week to plan their wedding on Christmas Eve in 2008.
Conceiving a child proved more difficult for the Grayslake couple, and Jody’s 58-year-old mother died, without a grandchild, from an unknown virus in 2010.
“We did everything we could [to conceive] because we wanted my mother to be able to hold our first child,” Jody Turcotte said. “Becoming pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy was always going to be difficult, but we couldn’t give up.”
Despite the loss of Jody’s mother, the couple remained steadfast in their wish to create a family, spending more than $15,000 on fertility treatments in the hope of becoming pregnant. Doctors later determined it would be next to impossible for the couple to conceive, and they were left scratching their heads as to what to do next.
“It was devastating,” said Brian Turcotte, 34. “You’re never expecting to not be able to have a child with the person you love.”
After exhausting all medical options, the two began looking into adoption, but at first were hesitant because of the costs – upwards of $40,000 to adopt a foreign child. Nonetheless, Jody and Brian Turcotte decided to meet with an adoption agency in Chicago last year to go over options for children in Ethiopia and China.
The meeting left a sour taste in their mouths, and the couple began to see the struggles to have a child as perhaps a sign they were not meant to be parents, Jody Turcotte said.
“You can’t remove the desire from your heart, but we were starting to think that was it,” the 31-year-old said. “It’s a huge amount of pressure to have someone else decide whether you are fit to be parents.”
Seemingly without hope, the couple was on the train home from meeting with the adoption agency when Brian Turcotte received an email on his phone from the father of a former high school classmate who had heard they were contemplating adoption.
The email had a photo attached of 1-year-old Addison and a message from the Rev. Rick Bullis of the Agape Family Church in Wood Dale. Bullis also serves on the board of advisers for the Agape Family Life House in China, a foster home for special-needs orphans.
Fast-forward several weeks to a decision: “‘Addie’ is our daughter, and now the scary part starts,” Jody Turcotte said.
The process to adopt the now-4-year-old Chinese girl with osteogenesis imperfecta – known as brittle-bone disease – began in February.
To afford the adoption, Jody Turcotte now works more hours than she can count, spending days and nights as an emergency dispatcher in Fox Lake and Glenview. In her spare time, she trains police dogs at TOPS Kennel in Grayslake. Brian Turcotte works full-time at the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency.
The couple’s free time is spent hosting fundraisers to bring Addie home.
A typical adoption today – because domestic agencies have varying prices, legislation and regulations – costs $35,000 to $40,000, Bullis said.
“To be able to pour your life into a child who didn’t have anyone to love and parent is incredible,” said Bullis, who has three adopted Chinese children. “Jody and Brian have become already, without finalizing the adoption, advocates not just for themselves, but other people who have similar difficulties having children.”
The Turcottes hope to be with Addie in China by the end of the year, with an additional $15,000 to $20,000 needed to finish paperwork, travel to China, and bring her home as a U.S. citizen.
Throughout the process, the couple has been sent photos of Addie from her foster home at the Agape Family Life House.
“I know I have never met her in my head, but you couldn’t convince my heart of that,” Jody Turcotte said. “She is 100 percent my daughter, and nothing will change that. I can’t wait to wrap my arms around her.”
“Through all our trials and hardships, it has brought us closer,” said Brian Turcotte. “Instead of turning on each other or snapping, we have grown closer and embraced each other.”
To donate or find out about an upcoming fundraiser for Addie, call 224-358-7880 or visit www.godgaveusaddie.blogspot.com.