The Cusimanos

Joe and Kim, and their Amazing Kids
Joe and Kim Cusimano are surrounded by a crazy, happy, loving family. But the path to their happiness has not always been easy.

After Joe and Kim had been married four years and had gone through infertility testing, children seemed unlikely. So the couple prayed about adopting. They didn’t know where to start and didn’t know anyone who had adopted, but they were willing to go any direction, including overseas, to find the baby God wanted for them. Within the next few weeks of their plea, they met three families who had adopted. Those families directed them toward Dillon International, a Tulsa organization.

The first step was to sit through a pre-adoptive information workshop. The program profiled statistics on each country, giving health care, red tape, timelines, cost issues and common problems. Korean adoptions seemed to be the most longstanding and most predictable. So they applied, leaving open the list of child’s requirements.

Some babies have difficulty being placed with a family because of health issues, special needs or history of the mother. Nate was one of these. When Kim first saw the picture of the winking baby boy with one eye closed, she fell in love with him. The baby needed open-heart surgery and eye surgery caused from CHARGE Syndrome, which is a genetic pattern of birth defects. But he was the baby for them.

“Every adoption has frustration,” Joe said. “You are totally not in control, so you need to be flexible and patient. There are always unforeseen delays.”

In 1997, the anxious couple flew to Korea to bring Nate to Oklahoma. Nothing went smoothly on that first of many trips. Due to a misunderstanding, they even missed the first scheduled time to meet Nate and his foster mother.
After Nate’s surgeries and new prosthetic eye, the couple adopted a baby girl, Anna, born in 1998. Then came Ben, just younger than Anna. Both Korean children were healthy, although they too had been passed up, this time because of risk associated with their birth mother’s poor health and little prenatal care.

Kim said there were many feelings associated with the adoptions. “One of my favorite moments with each child was when we stood before a judge for the adoption finalizafinalization,” she said. “The judge asked us to raise our right hand and say ‘I do’ to the question, ‘Do you accept this child to be as your natural born child?’ That was one of the greatest honors of my life. This ceremony takes place several months after the child has come home. I always had the urge to lean over that big judge’s bench and look him in the eye and say, ‘Sir, you are a few months too late … the moment I laid eyes on these children and touched them, it was like they were my natural born child.’”

The children have grown under the Cusimanos’ love and nourishment. Nate, now 9 years old, has become a computer whiz, a reader and historian, working on memorizing the list of U.S. presidents.

Anna enjoys wearing headbands and matching shirts. Although she doesn’t like change or disruption, she loves animals and wants one more pet in the family to call “my pet.” She also loves to sing.

Ben is into sports. He is a physically fit, competitive 7-year-old who loves gymnastics. He wants to be cool and likes to pretend he is Spiderman.

As the three children got older, the Cusimanos realized they wanted one more baby. So they applied for a fourth child. Allison, another at-risk baby, arrived in June 2005. The lovable child has anemia and no collarbones. However, it took no time for 1-year-old Allison to bond with her older brothers and sister. Nate loves to play with Allison, Ben insists on kissing her goodnight, and Anna has taken the role of big sister seriously by helping feed her. Almost every day, baby Allison wakes up with a smile and waves all the way through the house until she sees her siblings. “You gotta love these moments,” Kim said.

Kim Cusimano, who teaches part-time at the small private school where the three older children attend, said, “I would not want any other children but these. These are my children.”

Joe is just as adamant about his four children. “If we had to spend every dime we had to adopt our children, we’d do it again,” he said, “and with the first few, it did.”

There is no end to the capacity and power of love, the couple said. “When I look at my kids, the miracle overwhelms me,” Kim said. “These are the children God planned for us. We’re about like any other family. We think our kids are amazing.”

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