I know this blog is supposed to chronicle our current adoption, but in order to underscore its significance, I thought I should share some of the background.
I had difficult pregnancies. I went into labor at around 25 weeks with all four babies. After countless hospital stays, medications, and weeks of bedrest, all four still came early. The first at 36 weeks, the second at 34 weeks, the third at 32 weeks and the fourth at 35 weeks. Fortunately, only one of my babies spent time in the NICU, and only one has had long term complications because of prematurity. But, the efforts to stop early labor took a toll on me, physically and emotionally, and ultimately the risks to the babies convinced us not to try for any more biological children.
We knew we wanted a large family, though. We didn’t consider adoption, at first. Instead we grieved.
Then slowly, God worked on both of us. We had a “Really? You, too?” conversation one day, and realized that the idea of adoption had been growing in both of our hearts.
We jumped into the world of adoption almost blindly. In Fall of 2010, we filled out an application with an agency. Because of the need in Haiti at that time, we intended to adopt a child or a sibling group from there. But shortly after we started the process, Haiti’s program shut down indefinitely. So we started looking into Ethiopia. Then that program slowed significantly. Our social worker suggested that we try South Korea. So, we started raising funds, scheduling home studies and learning about the Korean program.
About a year later, in September of 2011, we were staying at my parents’ house in Beaverton when our social worker called me. She asked me if we were sure that we were willing to adopt a toddler rather than an infant, like we had originally planned. I said, “Yes,” that we had talked about it and decided that we were prepared to care for a toddler if there was one for us.
She said, “Well, that’s great news. Because I have a baby for you. I’m going to email you his information right now.”
My parents and Jason and I crowded around my mom’s laptop, giggling and pointing and crying at the photos of a sweet 9 month old baby boy.
Who would belong to us.
Who was ours from the moment we called back and said the word, “Yes.”
Who was meant to be ours even before that.
We had no idea, on that day, how long it would actually be before we could hold him. The adoption process slowed dramatically until it seemed to be grinding to a stop. The wait was maddening.
Wait times for parents anticipating travel stretched from a handful of months to a year or more. We answered weekly, daily, sometimes hourly questions from caring and concerned friends about the status of our adoption, with shrugged shoulders and twinges of resentment about the reminder of the delay. It felt cruel. We missed his first birthday, his first steps, his first Christmas. I grieved over the loss of each day.
Almost exactly a year later, we had finally raised all of the funds, made it through all of the checkpoints, prepared our kids and our home for another family member, and were just waiting, waiting for a travel call.
On Tuesday, August 27, 2012, the kids and I were camping with my parents, and we had taken the kids to play at the river. I was watching the time because I had to be at a Children’s Ministry meeting at 7:00. At 6:20, Jen texted me and asked if I was coming. She said they were all there waiting for me. I had obviously written down the wrong time. I considered whether or not I should still go, because by the time I got there, they would have been waiting for an hour. She told me to go ahead and come, they would work on other things until I arrived. I hated to leave the river, my children playing happily in the water, such a peaceful warm evening. I drove quickly and said a prayer that the trip would not be wasted.
I had little to add to the meeting. Jen passed around a photo of a friend’s brand new, sweet baby boy, and I felt the tears threatening. Steve asked me how things were in the nursery and I told him honestly how difficult it had been for me to hold all of the precious babies in there lately, and confessed tearfully that I’d been relieved to avoid it for a couple of months. And then the meeting came to a stop while everyone waited patiently for me to start breathing again.
We had waited a year since we said, “yes, we want that baby boy,” two years since we filled out our initial application, and still no travel call. We knew we were so close, but every day he was less of a baby and more connected to his world in Korea. And every day would make his transition to our family more difficult. I missed him terribly, and I’d never even met him.
The group prayed for me. They asked for a quick and smooth transition for our whole family.
And a phone call.
We closed our meeting and I drove back to the campground spent and a bit embarrassed.
The next morning, after we had cleaned up the campsite, we drove home. I walked in the door and heard Jason’s voice,
“Are you ready to go to Korea?”
First a thrill, then fear, then disappointment that I had missed the phone call.
“We leave in two days, and meet our son in a week.”