(Thank you, Eric, for giving us this glimpse into your heart and your life.)
It started in a parking lot. One January day in 1997, I met the most beautiful woman and handsome two year old boy that God had destined to be my wife and child. Both Dawn and I knew within a few short dates that we would marry (me – I knew after our first date). As our courtship progressed we talked of many things new couples discuss – dreams, goals, past histories, future visions. Included in these talks of future was a little angel of a boy who had many special needs. So in addition to leaving the single life and jumping into instant family, I also was thrust into the special needs world due to a rare syndrome that Gavin was diagnosed with as a toddler.
As Dawn and I would talk of our dreams of a future as family we both always talked of another child. A child we both felt deep within that God had just waiting to come to us, as a gift for us to raise and care for, a sibling for Gavin to shower his special, unconditional love and hugs on. But we had doubts. We were unsure. We had a child with special needs that already was demanding of so much time and attention. Would we be able to offer enough love to go around? So we did what any right thinking person would do. We prayed. And prayed. And tried. And tried.
But it appeared not to be God’s will. Time and money spent on doctors trying to understand why we were unable to bring a child into this world with no definitive answer. We began to, sadly, accept the decision that seemed to have been made.
Things changed. After we had been married about five years we both, independent of one another, started contemplating adoption. Though as we talked about it we realized that on my teaching salary and Dawn’s part-time zookeeper pay, it didn’t look financially possible so we felt that that door was closed before we even approached. But God had other things in mind.
In the summer of 2004 we were invited to dinner with my father and some dear friends who were neighbors of ours when we lived in New Hampshire. During dinner the subject of adoption came up once again. These neighbors of ours had a daughter that they had adopted from Korea back in the mid-sixties so we talked the whole evening through about the process that they went through, the agency they used, and many of the challenges they faces throughout the years. A door seemed to be cracking open.
Excited, we went home that night, fired up the computer and requested an information packet and application. But once again, we felt as though the time wasn’t right when the next day we received a phone call from Holt saying that they were backlogged with the printer and would not be able to send us any information for at least four to five months. As usual, God works in wondrous ways to let us know that we are heading in the right direction.
Two days later, much to our surprise, there arrived in the mail a large packet from the agency with all the information we requested. We pored over glossy pictures of infants, toddlers, children, and teens that had been recently placed in forever homes here in the states from countries all over the world. We studied the process. We looked at the cost breakdowns (and almost fainted dead away). And again that night, we prayed for guidance. Was this the direction to go? Would this benefit a child, Gavin, us, and most of all further God’s kingdom?
We believed that, yes, this was the way to go. Even Gavin, as non-verbal as he was at the time, seemed to understand what was going on. So we began the process, all the time wondering how we would ever pay for it. And that, my friends, turned out to be the most needless worry throughout this adventure to bring our daughter home. It was by grace that we were able to financially cover these expenses. It always seemed that at whenever we needed to pay for something, the money always seemed to just show up. And, it didn’t just show up; it was almost always neither more nor less than we needed at that point.
We were approved and placed on the waiting list in early/mid 2005 at which point we were feeling very confident that we were following the right path. But oh the waiting.
We did our best (some days better than others) of waiting with patience and not with envy or jealously knowing, but feeling uncertain at times, that when the perfect child arrived for us God would have all things work out.
We were sitting in a doctor’s office when our caseworker called. We had a baby girl. There was a two month old girl in foster care in Korea that was going to come home to us as her forever family. Her Korean name was Min Hee which, as we understand, translates Glitter from Heaven.
- immigration here in the U.S. to let us know that paperwork was approved on this end
- emigration in Korea letting us know all was good from that end
- Most important: letting us know when she would be escorted home
We received one of the phone calls in mid-march and then settled in to wait for the next call. In the meantime, preparations were being made to bring a baby into the house. In April, Dawn’s sister and friends held a baby shower for her and, as providence would have it, the timing couldn’t have been better. You see, the second phone call never came.
The Thursday morning following Dawn’s shower I was standing in front of my class of second-graders talking about alliteration when my phone rang. It was Dawn, calling at a very odd time. My first thought was what happened to who and where! I picked up the phone and she was crying trying to tell me something and after a few minutes I figured it out: our daughter was coming home to us on the following Tuesday! Yup, four days notice. And we had nothing in the house. All the presents from the shower, the crib, and various other items were at my mother in law’s house and we didn’t even have a dresser/changing table at that point. Needless to say, it was a very busy weekend getting things ready.
The following Tuesday, in May of 2006, Dawn, Gavin, and I, along with a grandmother, a grandfather, an Uncle and an Aunt all trooped down to Los Angeles International Airport to await the arrival of one Linnae Min Hee. After arriving at the airport and finding the correct area (after three tries) we waited this final half hour with stomachs churning and tears and laughter flowing.
As we stood at the bottom of the escalator a flight attendant appeared at the top and saw our entourage, smiled, and said “We have babies!” (there was another family that was meeting their son at the same time).
As the escorts came down the escalator my thought was that the 18-month pregnancy was over and the delivery was happening now in the midst of the hustle and bustle of and international airport. Dawn cried, I cried, as the escort placed this beautiful child in our arms, who looked up at us both and smiled the most gorgeous five month old smile I’d ever seen.
It was that moment, as surreal in so many ways as it was, that I saw the door we knocked on open wide, and such glory and beauty surround us and bind us together with this tiny, beautiful life.
The six years that have passed since that wonderful day have been some of the most precious in my life. I am enjoying watching the love and bond between mother and daughter; and the friendship, love, and caring shown in her relationship with her big brother — who, in spite of antagonizing her any chance he gets, adores his sister.
I am enjoying seeing this daughter of mine look to me as I, in the midst of my failings and shortcoming, lead her and teach her to be a child of God and to revel and be joyous in His grace.
Do you have a positive adoption story of your own to share? If so, contact me!