The idea of writing a memoir about their journey as adoptive parents raising 22 kids came to Hector and Susan Badeau when their adoptive son, 24-year-old Wayne, died from Sanfilippo Syndrome in April of last year.
The loss left a hole in the Badeaus lives as they tried to decide what they wanted to do next and what direction they wanted their lives to go. Finally, they decided it was time, they felt, to get their story in words and out to those who could possibly benefit from them.
Are We There Yet? The Ultimate Road Trip: Adopting and Raising 22 Kids! chronicles the Badeaus' trials and tribulations as their small family of only two grew into a large one of 22.
"We started as foster parents and started adopting soon after we married," Susan Badeau said. "We felt that the story of our family and what we learned along the way would speak to people, help people understand why kids in foster care need families."
Badeau's husband recalls meeting his wife for the first time in the forward of the book that captures the moment beautifully. Like many accounts in the book, it is as if the reader was actually there with the Badeaus
"Although it took 35 years to live it, it took just three months to write the manuscript once Hector and I began writing," Badeau said.
The Badeaus have always had a passion for kids, even as kids themselves in high school. Through the writing of this memoir they hope that people who are interested in adopting will get a realistic picture of what's it like and gain knowledge of the subject.
Both Badeau and Hector locked themselves in a room and did a bulk of the writing between Christmas and Valentine's Day last year. The hardest part of writing, Badeau added, was figuring out what to leave out once the two drafted an outline.
"And you remember so many things, even though it's a big book we really had to leave a lot out," Badeau said. "And trying to figure out the message that we most wanted to get out there and convey. We had to narrow down what we wanted to share."
Hector would write sections in the book about certain periods and Badeau would take what he had written and add her thoughts to consolidate it. Meanwhile Hector would work on the following chapter.
Badeau decided that she didn't want the reader to be confused or have to decide who was really talking so she decided to have the chapters be in her voice even though Hector wrote some of it.
"What motivated us to adopt and things like that are included in the first part," Badeau said. "The second part talks about the fun moments, but also the trial and tribulations and really builds up to a kind of crisis that was going on. And then the third part is about how we coped with that crisis and look forward to the future."
The Badeaus are not adding any more kids, having 35 grandchildren now. They have been on book tour ever since the book was published early in September and plan on writing a discussion guide for their story soon after.
"We're hoping that the book will appeal to people who work with families and kids, particularly those who are going through any kinds of challenges," Badeau said, "counselors, youth workers, pastors, teachers, to give an insight of what's it like for these kids and families."