Book Promo ~ Killing Karoline

What happens when the baby
they buried comes back?

Born Karoline King in 1980 in Johannesburg South Africa, Sara-Jayne (as she will later be called by her adoptive parents) is the result of an affair, illegal under apartheid’s Immorality Act, between a white British woman and a black South African man. Her story reveals the shocking lie created to cover up the forbidden relationship and the hurried overseas adoption of the illegitimate baby, born during one of history’s most inhumane and destructive regimes.

Killing Karoline follows the journey of the baby girl who is raised in a leafy, middle-class corner of the South of England by a white couple. Plagued by questions surrounding her own identity and unable to ‘fit in’ Sara-Jayne begins to turn on herself. She eventually returns to South Africa, after 26 years, to face her demons. There she is forced to face issues of identity, race, rejection and belonging beyond that which she could ever have imagined. She must also face her birth family, who in turn must confront what happens when the baby you kill off at a mere six weeks old returns from the dead.


a 5-star review by Lorna:
A very real story that needs to be read by all who need to understand the life of adoptees! A gripping story of triumph over adversity. A journey of self-discovery and survival against ‘false death’, rejection, abandonment, failure and so many of life’s tests. 

About the Author

Sara-Jayne King is a mixed-race South African/British journalist and radio presenter whose career has taken her across the globe in search of remarkable stories and fascinating characters. Her career began as a junior journalist in local radio in London and since then has included roles in the Middle East and Africa, most recently as a senior editor for news channel eNCA and presenter for Primedia’s talk radio station Cape Talk.


ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0862F7KZQ
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1920601953
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1920601959

Available on Amazon

Book Promo: Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman’s Story of Identity, Love, and Adoption

How Adoption’s Veil Of Secrecy
Is Being Lifted

New Normal Is Open Adoptions, Where Birth Parents
And Adoptive Parents Meet And Keep In Touch

Sometimes an adopted child grows up wondering about his or her birth parents and family history.

But that’s not the case with open adoptions, where the adoptive parents and their adopted child maintain an ongoing relationship with either one or both of the child’s birth parents.

Such situations, once uncommon, have become the norm for infant adoptions, helping to lift the veil of secrecy that left many adopted children unsure of their origins.

Brandi Rarus, who adopted her daughter, Zoe, as an infant in 2004, says she knew almost right away that she wanted to keep the lines of communication open with the birth parents.

“I could see how much Zoe’s birth mother, Jess Urban, loved her and decided that she could always be part of her life,” says Rarus, co-author with Gail Harris of the book “Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman’s Story of Identity, Love and Adoption” (

Zoe’s was both an open adoption and a special-needs adoption, another cause Rarus is passionate about. Zoe is deaf. So is Rarus, who lost her hearing at age 6 after contracting spinal meningitis, and Rarus’ husband, Tim, who was deaf at birth.

“Zoe’s adoption into a deaf family that uses American Sign Language was so important because she was given exposure to language that she may have been denied otherwise by a family that did not know sign language,” Rarus says.

Originally, another couple adopted Zoe. But as the hearing problem Zoe had at birth grew worse, the couple realized they could not provide Zoe the home she needed, setting the stage for the Rarus family to enter the picture.

“After meeting Brandi and Tim, I just knew in my heart they were the right parents for my daughter,” says Jess Urban, who became pregnant with Zoe when she was an unwed 17-year-old.

Decades ago, nearly all adoptions were closed, with no contact between birth and adoptive parents. That has changed. Here are a few facts about open adoption:

•  The statistics. Only about 5 percent of infant adoptions in the U.S. take place without some sort of ongoing relationship between birth parents and adoptive families, according to a 2012 study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. About 55 percent are fully open, with ongoing contact that includes the child, and 40 percent are “mediated,” where pictures and letters are exchanged, but there is no direct contact.

•  The advantages.  Proponents say open adoptions give children a deeper understanding of who they are and where they came from; an explanation about why they were placed for adoption; and the opportunity to have a relationship with the birth family. The child also will have no need to search for or wonder about the birth parents.

•  The prevalence. Adoptions, open or otherwise, are common enough that the majority of Americans have a personal connection to them in some way. Another Donaldson Adoption Institute survey once revealed that 60 percent of Americans either know someone who is adopted, have adopted a child themselves or have put a child up for adoption.

“I realize that having an open adoption of this kind may not be right for other adoptive families, but it is right for ours,” Rarus says. “When I see Zoe embracing who she is and where she came from in such a beautiful way, I see my own self in her and know even more that she is truly my daughter.”

Zoe even attended her birth mother’s wedding when she was 8, serving as a junior bridesmaid. She has visited with her birth father, BJ Briggs, who to this day has photos of Zoe on his refrigerator.

Briggs, who was 22 when Jess Urban became pregnant, had been reluctant to place his daughter up for adoption. He wanted to be involved in raising her. He acknowledges he was upset when the adoption center mailed him photos of Zoe and her new family and he realized the first adoption didn’t work out and a new set of parents he knew nothing about had adopted his daughter.

Like Urban, Briggs came to accept that Brandi and Tim Rarus and their three biological sons were the perfect family for Zoe, and allowing her to be adopted had been the right decision.

“Zoe helped me to realize that if you’re going to make a decision, then make it,” Briggs says. “And if it comes from inside of you, and you feel that it’s right, it’s going to be pretty darn close to being right.”

At just a few months old, Zoe was gradually losing her hearing. Her adoptive parents loved her—yet agonized—feeling they couldn’t handle raising a Deaf child. Would Zoe go back into the welfare system and spend her childhood hoping to find parents willing to adopt her? Or, would she be the long-sought answer to a mother’s prayers?

About Brandi Rarus

Brandi Rarus ( is co-author with Gail Harris of the book “Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman’s Story of Identity, Love and Adoption.” Rarus, who lost her hearing at age 6, has traveled the country speaking out for deaf children and building awareness of what it means to be deaf. She was Miss Deaf America in 1988. She and her husband live in Austin, Texas, with their three sons and adopted daughter.

Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman’s Story of Identity, Love and Adoption & the ADA

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Turns Twenty-Five Sunday, July 26
Former Miss Deaf America Says Act Helped Tear Down Barriers

The day the Americans With Disabilities Act passed in 1990, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin delivered a speech from the Senate floor in a way most of his colleagues didn’t understand.

Harkin, the bill’s sponsor, used sign language for the benefit of his brother who was deaf and had taught Harkin this lesson: “People should be judged on the basis of their abilities and not on the basis of their disabilities.”

With the country marking the Act’s 25th anniversary, Brandi Rarus, a former Miss Deaf America, remembers how important it was for people with disabilities to make it known they would no longer allow others to set limits on what they could achieve.

“Those of us with disabilities face many barriers,” says Rarus, co-author with Gail Harris of the book “Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman’s Story of Identity, Love and Adoption.” (

“Some of those are unavoidable. I can’t listen to the radio as I drive to work in the morning. Often, because of communication barriers, I have to work twice as hard as a hearing person. Instead of taking me five minutes to make a doctor’s appointment, it takes me 10.”

But some barriers are avoidable, Rarus says. And that’s why the Americans With Disabilities Act has played such an important role in people’s lives for the last 25 years.

The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities when it comes to employment issues. The Act also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for a disability unless it causes an “undue hardship.”

Harris, a professional storyteller and Rarus’ co-author, says that although Rarus is deaf, her life struggles are similar to everyone’s.

“We can all relate to finding our place in the world and fitting in, about self-acceptance, about being judged and judging others, and how we must look past all that to fulfill our dreams,” says Harris. (

The U.S. Department of Labor says many concerns about the ADA never materialized. According to the department:

•  Complying isn’t expensive. The majority of workers with disabilities do not need accommodations, and for those who do, the cost is usually minimal. In fact, 57 percent of accommodations cost nothing, according to the Job Accommodation Network, a service from the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

•  Lawsuits have not flooded the courts. The majority of ADA employment-related disputes are resolved through informal negotiation or mediation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the ADA’s employment provisions, investigates the merits of each case and offers alternatives to litigation. The number of ADA employment-related cases represents a tiny percentage of the millions of employers in the U.S.

•  The ADA is rarely misused. If an individual files a complaint under the ADA and does not have a condition that meets its definition of disability, the complaint is dismissed. While claims by people with false or minor conditions may get media attention, the reality is these complaints are usually dismissed.
Rarus, who became deaf at age 6 when she contracted spinal meningitis, was making strides toward success even before the passage of the ADA.

Winning the Miss Deaf America crown in 1988 led to numerous opportunities. She signed the National Anthem at a Chicago Cubs game. She spoke at corporate conferences and traveled the country speaking out for deaf children and building awareness of what it means to be deaf. She was understudy for Marlee Matlin in the play “Children of a Lesser God.”

Her latest project is “Finding Zoe.” The book Rarus and Harris joined forces to write tells the story of Rarus’ early years as she learned to live with being deaf, but the focal point becomes her effort to adopt Zoe, a deaf infant caught in the foster care system.

Harris, upon collaborating with Rarus on her story, was on a mission to help bring it forth, as everyone is deserving of basic human rights. “People don’t realize what the deaf have gone through,” she says.

 Working with Rarus and the anniversary of the ADA have reminded her of the challenges all people face, whether black or white, deaf or hearing, gay or straight.

“It’s how we deal with them that counts,” Harris says. “Brandi’s courage and tenacity can get us thinking about our own vulnerabilities and how they can make us strong.”

Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman's Story of Identity, Love, and Adoption  by Brandi Rarus & Gail Harris

Praise for Finding Zoe

“Finding Zoe is a heartwarming story about identity, self-acceptance and love. Brandi beautifully captures the joy of finally fitting in, feeling at home, and finding yourself.”


“The journey in Finding Zoe is captivating and inspirational, and above all, a story about doing what is right for our children, as well as ourselves, no matter how difficult….Finding Zoe is a joy to watch unfold.”

About Brandi Rarus and Gail Harris

Brandi Rarus (, who lost her hearing at age 6, has traveled the country speaking out for deaf children and building awareness of what it means to be deaf. She was Miss Deaf America in 1988. She and her husband live in Austin, Texas, with their three sons and adopted daughter.

Gail Harris ( is an award-winning writer and teacher of the intuitive process who also adopted a child. In addition to co-writing “Finding Zoe,” she is the author of “Your Heart Knows the Answer.” She lives with her husband and son in Framingham, Mass.

Benefits of Private Adoption

Adopting a Child?
The Benefits of Going Private

Celebrities Gary and Cassie Chapman
Discuss Their Journey

For many married couples, there comes a time when having children becomes the first priority. Often, the urge to create life and see it into the world becomes overwhelming.

But that urge can put many couples on an unpredictable journey, especially when they decide that their love, time and resources can be best put to use through adoption, says award-winning singer-songwriter Gary Chapman. He and his wife, former Nashville Wives star Cassie Piersol Chapman, say they were open to whatever God had in store for them.

“We knew it was time to give our hearts to a child,” says Gary, 56, a five-time Grammy-nominated, seven-time Dove Award-winning artist who recently released his first album in a decade, The Truth, (

But, while the decision to have a child was made, conceiving was taking awhile. Gary, who had reversed a vasectomy and is 23 years older than Cassie, has three grown children.

“During this period, I got a call from a friend telling me about a woman who was four months pregnant and looking for a suitable adoption family,” says Cassie, who is proactive in multiple charity groups which facilitate a legal alternative to going through an agency. “It was as if God knew where this child needed to be after the birth. I immediately understood that this would be our path.”

Through private, or independent, adoption, the Chapmans received their blessing, a baby girl they named Eva Rose. Gary and Cassie talk about the benefits involved in private, or independent, adoption:

• Parents can begin bonding with their child more quickly after birth: Private adoption allows for the newborn infant to bypass foster care, which is typically required by state-run agencies. Most babies adopted between private parties go home from the hospital with the adoptive parents.

“In our case, the birth mother had a 10-day grace period starting from time of Eva’s birth,” Cassie says. “While that was tough, I think it offers more peace of mind for birth mothers.”

• It allows for more control, more collaboration and more choice:Independent adoption gives all parties greater autonomy in making important choices about the baby and each other. For many, the opportunity for the birth mother and adoptive parents to meet adds reassurance that decisions are being made in the best interest of the child. This dynamic doesn’t exist in the more common state-run agencies.

“I think some folks actually prefer a more anonymous approach,” Gary says. “Let’s admit it – these can be some of the toughest decisions in a woman’s life, and she may not want a relationship with adoptive parents.”

• Better access to information: What’s the child’s background? Should you anticipate medical issues down the road? What if a child wants to know more about his biological mother and father, including their spiritual background? Private adoption allows for direct communication between the two parties.

“Birth mothers may not even know if they’ll want contact with their child 20 years later,” Cassie says. “If adoptive families go this route, they ought to collect as much relevant information about the child’s birth parents as they can.”

• Adequate safety measures: Like other types of adoption, private adoption is governed by state laws. In addition, if a child is brought from one state to another, then the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children apply.

“Folks should understand that private adoption isn’t like the Wild West; it’s just a less bureaucratic method of adoption,” Gary says.

About Gary & Cassie Piersol Chapman

Gary Chapman is a veteran musician in the contemporary pop, country, Christian and southern gospel genres. His Dove Awards include Male Vocalist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year, and he’s written hits including I Prefer the Moonlight for Kenny Rogers and Finally for T.G. Sheppard along with songs for Alabama and Wynonna Judd. He was the host of TNN’s hit show Prime Time Country for four years and founded the record label that launched current Disney music mainstays Everlife, among many top performers.

Cassie Piersol Chapman starred in TNT’s 2014 docudrama Private Lives of Nashville Wives (from the Real Housewives creators). She grew up on her family’s West Virginia farm and was active in 4H and other agricultural activities. She also sang in a choir, modeled and became a star cheerleader in high school. She won two national cheerleading titles at Morehead State University in Kentucky. She has appeared in music videos, commercials and printed work. She works with her husband, Gary, on A Hymn a Week, a popular online devotional.