Our lives changed today.

The past week has been nothing short of a miracle to me.  I shouldn’t be surprised by it, and yet every time God shows up the way he does in the smallest, but most significant details, I stand in awe with reverence and joy.

Disclaimer:  This post is LONG.  I probably should have split it up, but truth is, I know I will read this time and time again one day.  It’s like the stones the Israelites used to form monuments to mark when God had done something extraordinary.  Posts like these are stones for me.  I want this all in one place.

Today is the day we called our adoption agency and asked to adopt a specific little boy.  Today marks one week from the first time I laid eyes on my sweet 8-month-old son.  It’s a week I’ll never ever forget.

On March 15th, Josh logged in to the waiting child section of our agency’s website and noticed we qualified for a little girl who had just been added.  He sent the details to me, and I spent much of the day researching her medical condition and trying to determine if we could meet her needs in the way she deserves.   Ultimately, I decided I just needed more information, so Josh contacted our agency to request her full file.

We were told her file had already been passed along to another potential adoptive family.  With only half a day’s research and two photos to go on, I still felt an overwhelming sense of disappointment.  I realized just how quickly you can get invested in a child.  I also realized we were much more open to adopting from the waiting child list than I had first anticipated.

Our agency contact also told us she had another file that had just come in for a little boy with {redacted for confidentiality}.  She hadn’t put everything together to list on the website yet, but offered to send it to us first if we were interested.

Quick backstory here:  When Josh and I discussed adopting a child with special needs at the very beginning of this process, we were almost immediately in agreement that we were open to many physical special needs, but we would need to review cognitive or developmental needs on a case-by-case basis.  In these conversations, we regularly referred to his medical need as our “placeholder” example of a special need we would feel qualified to provide adequate care.  Why?  Probably because Josh had a a mild form of the same issue as a child.

So Josh was interested immediately.  I was too, but after realizing how quickly I would attach to a child, I tried really hard to maintain some emotional distance.  One of the things I’ve come back to several times in this process is the idea that it’s not about finding the right child for our family as much as it is about finding the right family for the child.  When we watched this little boy’s video, I noticed they referred to all of the attention and work his foster mom has been doing with him and how much progress he has made as a result. He is the only child placed in a home with a very experienced foster mom.  I also noticed a couple of developmental delays that could be related to the medical issue, but I didn’t want to make any conclusive decisions until we reviewed the file with a pediatrician and could better say if this was a child who would thrive more with the kind of undivided attention he would receive in a family where he was the only child.

I hope this doesn’t sound callous because it was FAR from a heartless decision.  I didn’t want my emotions to convince me to adopt a child because I just WANTED him if it was going to actually be in his best interest to be with another mother who could give him better care.

We called an international adoption clinic and learned it would be $500 just to review the file.  Thankfully our local pediatrician has a doctor on the team who specializes in international adoption.  He didn’t technically have any openings when we called, but kindly came in to the office early today to meet with us.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

By Friday evening, I had printed all of the pictures of the little boy and compiled the file to drop off at the pediatrician.  I also printed duplicates of the photos for us.   Both of our boys saw the photos, so we lightheartedly asked them what they thought.  They both liked the little baby.  Jackson thought his name should be Charlie.  Elliott firmly suggested the name Sam.

Each day this week, I have looked at baby boy’s pictures and envisioned our life with him.

By Wednesday night, I was an emotional wreck.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t really think about anything else except the looming doctor’s appointment.  I knew I was already very, very invested in this child, and the idea of passing on the opportunity to adopt him broke my heart.  But at the same time, I knew there were things we had to consider carefully and prayerfully.  I closed my eyes and pictured us a year from now matched with another child and still checking month after month to see if this child was still on the waiting list.  I thought about this child staying on the list for another one to two years, and as much as I felt very confident that someone would scoop him up quickly, it’s never a sure thing.  And I just couldn’t process the idea of him not being mine.  I couldn’t put him back on that list.  I felt this sudden overwhelming, fierce, primal surge of love — the same kind that I felt for both of my sons the minute I met them.  That protective instinctual love that hits you when you realize God had better help any person that tries to come between you and this person you don’t even know because they are YOURS and you will fight for them with all of your being.

It wasn’t constant or without the fear of still having to say no.  But it was just enough in those few minutes in the early, early hours of the morning when the world is still and it’s just you and God and the truth of it all.  This was my son.  I felt it in my bones.

Still, I was so afraid of what Friday might hold.

Thankfully a dear friend of mine had won tickets to an event on Thursday night, and she invited me to come along.  It was the kind of event where something is constantly grabbing your attention.  There wasn’t time to worry or stress, so I just relaxed, ate great food, enjoyed the company of a dear friend, and came home exhausted before crashing into a deep and peaceful sleep.

This morning, I woke up calm and steady.  The fear was gone, but in its place was a growing spark of excitement.  I felt like I would know by the afternoon that this was my son, but I was still holding back from celebrating until Josh and I knew all we could and agreed definitively.

As we do most Friday mornings, I got the boys somewhat presentable and we headed to the gym.  We found a great parking spot immediately and both kids were in a good mood, so we made it to the building earlier than we have in a while — early enough to catch my sweet friend Heather leaving with her two kids.  Heather has been so supportive and kind to us through this adoption process, and today was no different.  Although she didn’t know anything about the file we were reviewing or the pediatrician appointment that was only hours away, she ended up being one of the parts of this story that will stand out to me forever — absolute proof that God is in the details.

Heather told me to come over to her car for a minute because she had something for me.  As she got her kids settled and leaned into her van, she told me she had a gift for me that she had planned to save until we were matched with a child, but she just couldn’t wait because she loves giving gifts.

She pulled out a handmade sign that I had been admiring from a local shop.  It’s wooden, rustic looking, and says in script “this is us”, an homage to the popular TV show that we’re all just a little obsessed with.  I had told her a couple of months ago that I’d love to get that sign and do a wall collage thing when we knew who third baby would be.

My heart started racing when I fully processed all she had just said.  She had a gift she planned to give me when we were matched with a child, yet she had been carrying in her car this week in hopes of running into me at the gym so she could give it to me now.  And it just so happened, she gave it to me on the very day I would call our agency to request to adopt our son.  She wanted to give it to me when we matched with a child, and by the grace of God, she did only hours before it happened.

From this point on, I knew.  I knew that I knew that I knew that I knew.  I knew whatever the pediatrician told us, there would be a way to make it work.

When the appointment time arrived, I found myself sitting across from a pediatrician I’ve only met once in passing.  I knew he specialized in international adoptions, but I knew nothing specific about him.

The first thing he told us was that reviewing the paperwork was a throwback for him.  Twenty-five years ago, he adopted his daughter from the same Korean agency we will be working with to adopt our little boy.  Later in the conversation, I would ask a question about one of our little boy’s features, and he would explain to me that it’s common for Korean children’s features to display this way but that it wasn’t a sign of anything to be concerned about.  And I trusted him immediately because he is an adoptive parent of a South Korean child.  I’m not sure I could ask for a better person to review our little boy’s file.

On top of that, he knew a lot about South Korean culture and traditions.  There were a couple of developmental questions we had that were easily explained by South Korean cultural norms with babies.  And due to the age of our little boy’s foster mom, she would have been raising her children at the same time was raising his daughter.  So the same little quirks he knew about would be the same ones she would have likely implemented when raising her own children.

Ultimately, the only significant need is support for the known medical issue, which as he said “frankly isn’t a big deal”.  This appointment could not have gone better.  There were absolutely no reasons to think he wouldn’t thrive in our home.

We called our agency from the car.

Now that we know who our baby boy is, we are working to expedite the process as much as we possibly can on our end.  Unfortunately there was a personal matter for our social worker that led to a delay in writing our home study, but we are eagerly anticipating it to come to us to review next week, and our agency has indicated they will be moving quickly with it as well.

It’s after midnight now, and I’m sure I left out things I wanted to say.  I also know I didn’t give many details beyond the fact we are adopting an 8-month-old boy with a mostly minor medical issue.

But as I’ve mentioned in other parts of this journey, God is so clearly orchestrating all of this.  He is in every detail.  This is a week that has rapidly strengthened my faith.  How could it not?  Sometimes I can intellectually understand the reasons someone would not believe in God, but for me, it would be to deny my own experiences in so many ways.  I’ve been singing Hillsong’s “So Will I” a lot lately, and it drives the whole point home for me.  He’s in everything.  He is every detail and the entire big picture simultaneously.

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