Humans of Calvert County, Sarah Merranko & Anita Santoyo

“We have adopted eight children and have three biological children. I always wanted to adopt. When I was a little girl, I was just fascinated by adoption.… I always wanted children. And then when I met my husband, he came from a family of seven. I remember when we were engaged him saying he wanted two children and I wanted four. We compromised and agreed to have two biological children and adopt one child. Well, we had our two oldest boys and then we suffered a miscarriage.

We then had to suffer through two years of infertility. I was thinking, ‘Well, maybe this is God’s plan for us; that we are supposed to pursue adoption at this point.’ So, we started looking into it and applied to adopt through DHS in Washington DC Child family services.

That was the first adoption. Our two oldest boys were now 8yrs & 6yrs old. In the interim while we were waiting for placement, I conceived again and we never called the social worker to tell her i was pregnant because it was such a precarious pregnancy. At 12 weeks I bled really badly and went to the ER. I thought for sure he was gone I couldn’t even conceive that he would still be there. We went up to Calvert and they called the ultrasound tech in overnight and sure enough there was Caleb’s heartbeat be as strong as could be. We knew we were having another boy, so we decided to name him Joseph after my dad and my husband’s dad. I was on bed rest for at least six weeks.

I just got off of bedrest and my social worker had called me about two girls and one boy who needed a home and she knew that we particularly asked for girls. More boys are placed with families than girls. I think the ratio was two to one, at that time. So we requested girls. The oldest was six and her sister was five and they had a little brother who was three and his name is Joseph. At that moment, we knew it had to be God. The three of them came home to us and three weeks later Caleb was born. We went from two to six kids in a there weeks span. It was hard, but I treasure those memories when they were little.

Caleb was 18 months old when we got pregnant again, but half way through the pregnancy we lost the baby. His name was Luke. Everyone was so geared up for a baby, so we thought we would apply to adopt again. We applied through Bethany Christian Services. We were placed with Jeremiah.

When Jeremiah was 18 months old, we applied again and were placed with the twins, Phillip and Patrick. Then, after about a year or two we got Joshua. Joshua is our miracle baby. He was born with a part of his brain missing. There was another family lined up to take him, but after his MRI showed that he had a membrane missing from his brain, the family backed out. All of our adoptions have been special needs in one way or another. So, Bethany contacted us.

When you adopt, there’s this form you fill out and there is a ‘Would you be willing to consider list…’would you be willing to consider mental illness in the Mom or Dad?, would you be willing to consider special needs?” and we stopped checking those “would not be willing to consider” boxes because we figured God will send us the children we were meant to have for whatever reason. So the adoption agency, Bethany, knew we would take him. When they put him in my arms, I remember thinking, ‘For a kid who’s missing part of his brain, you look pretty darn good!’

So, we brought Joshua home. Joshua taught himself to read at four and in kindergarten he memorized all of his times tables up to twelve. He’s had some social issues, but he’s overcome a lot. He’s doing great. When Joshua was three, we brought Noah home. Noah is Jeremiah’s Irish twin. He blends right in. 

We have six adults now and seven children still home, but we’re a close family. I talk to most of my adult children almost every day. The most rewarding thing from my journey is my children considering adoption even after seeing all the hard work that has gone into it. Also, to help them realize that not everyone is perfect and that there is grace. You never know what path they have traveled and what challenges they have. In many of our kids it’s been that way and you have to give people grace, the way I hope they would give me grace.”

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...