A Happy Ending … Times Two
By: Denise Lineberry
Life was a rollercoaster for Kathy Ferrare and husband, Rich. But one thing that has remained steady was that they knew they wanted a child.
Kathy, deputy director for program planning and control in the Exploration and Space Operations Directorate, was one of seven siblings. Rich, a research scientist in the Science Directorate, was one of two. They have several nieces and nephews. They decided it was time to extend their immediate family.
With the help of several Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) organizations, including three hospitals and an adoption agency, their dream to be parents came true. And another CFC organization, a donor organization, helped them to see the silver lining behind a dark cloud.
They have two happy, healthy daughters: Olivia, 8, and Erin, 6. At night, before Olivia and Erin go to bed, their parents ask them two questions: "What did you enjoy most today?" and "What did you learn today?"
"It's important to understand their purity … their honesty," Kathy said.
Each day presents new answers from the children. And each day presents a new opportunity for Kathy and Rich. But those opportunities did not come quickly or easily. And that's where the CFC organizations came into play.
Twelve years ago, Kathy and Rich got jobs at NASA Langley Research Center. They sold their home in Maryland and moved to York County, saddened to leave family, but excited to embark on a new adventure.
Soon after, they discovered they were having a baby. While adjusting to their new environment and new careers, they prepared for a new addition to their family, Angela Christina Ferrare. She was born on June 1, 1998.
Baby Angela was a combination of Kathy and Rich. She had long fingers, and they expected she might be a piano or trumpet player like her father. She had her mother’s promptness, "making sure she was born on her 'due date,' Kathy said.
Angela went to a wedding, a picnic, the grocery store, the post office, Target and on many stroller rides. She attended Mass. She also visited NASA Langley for a party, celebrating a co-workers 25 years and she met many of her parents’ NASA work associates from Langley and headquarters.
"With Rich, she experienced a rainbow that could be seen from our front porch and his analytical explanation of how they are created," Kathy said.
Baby Angela experienced all of those things in 38 days.
On July 8, 1998, Angela died from a rare lung disorder. Kathy and Rich found themselves sharing these experiences at Angela's funeral.
Kathy's brother, Mike, who is a doctor at Yale University, worked closely with Angela's doctors at the Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughter (CHKD). They had comfort in knowing that Angela received the best care that she could.
Kathy and Rich were introduced to LifeNet, a non-profit organ donor organization providing heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, lung and other organs for transplant. Baby Angela donated her heart valves to several people and helped to save their lives.
For that, Angela is honored on a memorial entitled, "The Butterfly Promise" at the CHKD. The hospital chose butterflies as a symbol of metamorphosis – turning death into life – and beauty.
"Even though our contact with Angela was only for a short period of time, we feel her presence here with us today," Kathy shared at Angela’s funeral 11 years ago.
But that statement still holds true today … and for every tomorrow.
After some time passed, they tried again to have a child. Kathy miscarried three times before reaching seven weeks of pregnancy.
They decided to adopt. In 1999, they placed business cards in each of their Christmas cards. The cards explained that they were a loving couple wanting to adopt a child of their own. They hoped that friends of friends or friends of family would learn they could offer a child a good home. "We were being proactive," Kathy said.
Bethany Adoption Agency, a CFC organization, tried to help. Four times the Ferrare's were close, but the attempts fell awry.
In April of 2001 they learned that Kathy was pregnant again. On December 20, 2001, Olivia Ferrare was born. The CHKD offered to have Kathy deliver there and they also offered for her to bring Olivia in for testing.
The tests showed that Olivia was a healthy baby.
"Olivia enjoys chorus, drama class, playing the piano, riding her bike and playing soccer," Kathy said. "She is a caring, loving person who thinks about everything and everyone."
On November 6, 2003, Erin Ferrare was born and their dream had doubled.
"Erin enjoys ballet class, playing the violin, making happy faces on everyone's driveway with her chalk, riding her bike and playing at the park," Kathy said. "She is a bundle of energy who keeps Rich and I on our toes!"
After 5 years of joy and heartache, the Ferrare family was complete. And the joy now overrides the heartache. With Angela’s memory held tight, they continue to live their dream.
At the start of this year’s campaign, Kathy chose to share her story of pain and triumph, alongside Rich and her two daughters, at a yearly key workers training session for the CFC. She did so because she knew that without the help of several CFC organizations, her life might not have turned out the way she and Rich hoped. And she wanted people to know the types of support that the CFC organizations are capable of.
At the meeting Kathy shared a passage from "Remember Your Essence," by Paul Williams. She and Rich felt that it described Angela:
"You have a power that has nothing to do with what you do
or what you say
or who you know
or where you are
or what you look like
or your skills
or your talents
or what you have.
It is the power of your presence.
It is the heath and light from your burning log.
And it touches everyone who comes in contact with you."
Kathy explained to the group that they, too, could use the power of their presence to spread the CFC message to others.
Whether it was fate, the support they received or just sheer determination, the Ferrare’s found their happy ending. And they know that the CFC can help others to find theirs, as well.
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) has been extended through Dec. 15. NASA Langley still needs $87,000 to reach its goal of $390,000.
To learn more about the Combined Federal Campaign, please visit: http://cfc.larc.nasa.gov/
To contribute to the CFC through employee express, please visit:
To contribute a single donation, please contact Kendall Sherman at: firstname.lastname@example.org
NASA Langley Research Center
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor and Responsible NASA Official: H. Keith Henry
Editor and Curator: Denise Lineberry