When my husband and I were engaged (and ridiculously young), we talked about our plans for the future and for the family we someday hoped to raise. We mentioned adoption and sure, we agreed, adoption was great, but to be honest, we viewed it as Option B. You know, just in case Option A didn't work out. And please, we were still in college, for goodness sake. Option A was several years off anyway.
On our first wedding anniversary, we walked down to the little university hang-out, "The Brick Oven". Oh, how I loved The Brick Oven. On our student budget, though, I usually just enjoyed The Brick Oven through the heavenly aromas that wafted down the street as I walked past after classes. But on our first anniversary, we splurged. The funny thing was, that night nothing tasted right. "Is it just me?" I asked my husband, "Or does your food taste off?" "It's just you," he said, obviously enjoying his lasagna. It was my first inkling that maybe something else was cooking in the oven. And it wasn't just pizza. Option A was full-steam ahead, and he'd make his arrival just after graduation.
Then Option A, numero dos, came into our lives during my husband's junior year of dental school. By Option A, numero tres, my husband was mercifully (and finally) gainfully employed. His practice was thriving. We'd moved into what we considered our forever house. And I felt done. Complete.
When our youngest was three years-old, I had an impression that someone else needed to come to our family. Oddly enough though, each time I prayed for confirmation that we should conceive another child, I felt that no, that wasn't the plan. I was baffled. I'd had easy pregnancies, relatively easy deliveries, and frankly, we made some darn cute kids. But the feeling was undeniable. Another was to come, but not in the same way as our first three. I shared this with my husband, stumbling over my words as I tried to vocalize the feelings that wouldn't let go of my heart. He listened quietly and then said, "I've felt the exact same way."
At this point, I wish I could say we acted on these feelings immediately. We didn't. This sudden change of plans scared us. It scared us a lot. So we circled a date on the calendar, a month later, and agreed that we'd both pray and research and talk again. A month later, we were even more convinced that adoption was now our Option A and furthermore, that this child would come from China. Now, this would be another great time for me to say that we got right to work and started filling out papers. We didn't. We set a date again. For a year this continued until I literally felt ill. I'd felt queasy years before at The Brick Oven, but now I felt truly sick, both in body and soul.
In one of the most spirit-filled conversations I've ever had in my marriage, my husband and I tearfully agreed that we could not wait a moment longer. And in that very instant when we said, Yes, we're doing this, it was like a strong wind blew through our home, sweeping away with it every last remnant of fear. In its wake was left joy and peace and hope.
At that time, we didn't personally know anyone who'd adopted from China, an odd thought today, so I contacted a large agency I'd read about on the internet. They sent me an information packet that included a contact list. I scanned the list for someone in our home state of Washington and dialed the number. The woman I spoke to said she'd used this agency for their first adoption, and that they were wonderful, but that for their second adoption, they'd used a smaller agency, one that she felt offered a little more hand-holding. Then she shared a story, one that would carry me through the months of waiting ahead of us. "When we were in China, we toured our daughter's orphanage," she said. "As we walked down the rows of cribs, I was struck with such sadness that all of the babies looked somehow the same. I rationalized this, thinking that they were all baby girls, all from the same area of China, and so of course, they looked similar. Then my husband said, 'They have no hope in their eyes.' And I knew that was it. That was the similarity that brought me so much sadness. They had no hope in their eyes."
I couldn't call the new agency fast enough. No hope their eyes! My child might already be born. She might already have lost the hope in her eyes. We started our wait in the Non-Special Needs program. I didn't even know anything else existed. Nine months later, in another tearful conversation, and after more research, we knew our child would be one with special needs. We e-mailed our agency and the very next day we saw our daughter's face. Amazingly, only two months later, she was in our arms.
When we talk to our children, and tell them about their beginnings, I hope each one of them knows that they were absolutely our Option A. The timing may not have always been perfectly orchestrated, but it was ultimately perfect. It was perfect because it brought us to them. Our children.