adoption rocks

Going through it {Welcome Baby}

“ You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it. Uh-huh! We’re not scared.”

That little mantra comes from one of my kids’ favorites books and it has been on repeat in my head for the last several weeks with one exception. The kids from the book who are going on a bear hunt bravely declare that they are not scared, but with timidity, I kept thinking about just how scared I was. I finally took a sigh of relief this past Friday.

Let me back up to the day that little mantra started playing in my head. I was roller skating, yes, roller skating with a bunch of gangly fourth and fifth graders from my son’s class. As we wrapped up the event, I asked a teacher to take a picture of an unenthusiastic Greyson and me. As she handed my phone back I noticed I had a few missed calls. They were all from the same unknown number, and I had a voicemail. The kids took the bus back to their school and I hopped in my car to head home. I was thinking that I hated the smell roller rinks left on your clothes as I tapped the speaker button to play my message.

It took me a minute to register that it was a caseworker from an agency near Detroit asking me to call her back as she had good news to share with me. Now, I’ve heard that it’s typical for the labor and delivery process to get quicker with each child you have, but no one ever said that of an adoption process. Yet, we had been through a four year process with Charlie, to a thirteen month process for Sawyer and now it had been six short weeks since we began waiting in this adoption. Surely, this was not the good news the caseworker meant, but I intended to find out. I called her back immediately.

Thankfully, I was around the corner from Ron’s office so I pulled in and headed to find him. He wasn’t in his office, but I took a seat at his desk and began to furiously scribble notes as the caseworker talked. Ron walked in a few seconds later with a confused look on his face, and I mouthed the words “BABY!” and pointed at my phone. Sure enough, there was a pregnant women who wanted to meet with us, and could we drive across the state next week? We could, so we did, and there we met the birth mom of our fourth child.

When we started waiting in September I just had to ask the average wait of families at the agency. I was given the politically correct answer that of course they couldn’t ever really say, but it seemed to be somewhere around six to fourteen months. I did the math in my head and liked where that put us, past the busyness of the holidays, past the trip we had planned to take in January and into spring or summer where it’s easy to get out with a baby. Yet, here we were meeting a brave, spunky women who had needed to find a family quickly for her baby because she was due in four weeks. Again, I did the math and asked “Your due date is on Thanksgiving?”.

We didn’t even wait those four weeks to meet our baby. While I was still trying to wrap my head around it all, I got a text from the birth mom one Friday morning. She would be getting induced. … today. Which was a little more than a week prior to her due date. Sometimes I wonder if God thinks its fun to mess with me. Kinda seems like maybe He does. This whole scenario was so far away from what we had envisioned, and lets be honest, what I had planned. I kept telling people when we started the process “I have no expectations,” and I certainly didn’t expect THIS.

THIS being that this adoption was not a clear cut situation. THIS being that while we were able to be there an hour after the birth to meet our baby, he would not be coming home with us. Yes, we were allowed to stay in the hospital with him until he was released, but he would be going to a host care (think agency foster care) rather than home to our family. Goodness, I cried about that. It seemed unfair. I have grieved missing the first year of two of my kids’ lives, and swore that this time it would be different. It was different. We could visit everyday, but there were strict rules put into place. We couldn’t be with him longer than two hours a day, less than that on the weekends, and our kids were not allowed to meet him or visit with us. Of course they had gone over all of these scenarios with us, but we were told it was pretty rare for a baby to go to host care. I just didn’t expect for both his birth mom and his new family to be leaving the hospital without him. Again, the little mantra played over and over in my head. “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, You’ve got to go through it.” And I felt scared.

There we sat; Ron and I in a hospital across the state falling madly in love with our tiny 5 pound 6 ounce baby, while his first family sat in another room just down the hall. We kept him with us at night, but he would visit her during the day. We visited with her too, met her parents, and her nana. We all cooed over the baby. It felt a little surreal. Then just like that it was time for her to head home. The lump in my throat grew as we wheeled the bassinet into her room for the goodbye. She picked him up and held him close, tears streaming down both our faces. Then she bravely handed him over to us and out she went. I can only describe this as the rawest form of true love I’ve ever witnessed. She put her own desires aside for the needs of her baby. She holds a piece of my heart.

We woke up the next morning in the hospital feeling anxious and discouraged. Today the host family would come to take our baby home. After a few restless hours, the caseworker walked in and immediately my lip began to tremble. “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, got to go through it.”

Ron says I am being dramatic here, but I don’t know how else to define what happened next. An extreme presence of peace was ushered in with the host mom. It was like Jesus walked in with her. She had a warm, welcoming smile. She empathized with us and although I bawled when she put my baby in her car, I was certain he would be loved. God has been so good to us. Our wonderful host mom told us to come as often and as long as we wanted, she sent pictures and texts daily, and most importantly, she loved on my baby. I don’t know what kind of person signs up to take on a newborns schedule, but they are some kind of wonderful. It wasn’t an easy couple of weeks, but this family certainly lightened the load.

Our final step in this process was court, not for us, but for the birth parents. Without going into too much detail, this is where all the issues came into play. Legally, certain steps must be taken in order for our baby to be able to come home. We knew there were concerns, but the agency felt they had a good handle on the situation. Forty eight hours before paperwork had to be sent, I got a call. The caseworker explained that things had not gone as planned, it was proving more difficult to get everything in order than originally thought. They had had a meeting with their legal team. If things didn’t turn around in the next couple of hours, court would need to be rescheduled. The caseworker said “if you have people willing to pray, I’d contact them now”

That is exactly what we did. One of my prayer warriors said as she was praying, “ Thank you God that you are in the midst of the details, that nothing escapes your eye.” So yes, we were going through it, but we were certainly not going through it alone. I am so thankful for faithful friends and family who covered us in prayers, watched our children so we could make visits a reality, and constantly checked in on us to see how we were doing. They helped carry us through.

Nine hours after my original phone call from the caseworker, late in the evening, she called again. They had a break through, they had dug up new information, and just a few minutes before she called me, all the time sensitive paperwork was completed. Only God, only God. We give Him the Glory for moving on our behalf. One week later, this past Friday, court went on without a hitch, and our sweet boy came home to brothers ecstatic to meet him. I choke up just thinking about all the emotional ups and downs we have experienced these past five weeks. When I asked the birth mom the reasons she selected our family, one of them was that she wanted him to have a large family filled with boys. She said “I think he will fit in great with your crew.” We couldn’t agree more. Marge, maybe not as much.

God never ceases to amaze me with His plans, His purposes, and His timing. We give Him praise for our fourth son:

Bennett Ray-Isaac Cook

Ours

Little buddy bravely joined our family today, although to us, he’s been ours since we got his picture nine months ago.  I found a quote a few weeks ago that resonated so strongly with me. It’s been on my mind the last few days as we prepared to travel. It goes like this:

 

Your identity is simply who God says you are

Love it, especially for all our boys. Before they were anybody else’s, they were and are His. 

 

 Over the past few years I have come to dislike the phrases: “ so lucky”  “how blessed” and “saved”  in regards to adoption. While I understand them and typically they are well intentioned, they leave a bad taste in my mouth. Mainly because we are the lucky ones for getting to add another adorable boy to our family. We are blessed to be chosen to parent him and Jesus already did the saving, so I will just do the parenting through His grace. 

 

It’s true our family has been made by unconventional methods, but the way they came to us, does not make them who they are, it’s just one part of many that make up their story. To us, they are just our sons and today we added a third to our family.  

 

He is doing pretty good, lots of crying right after we got in the taxi but he calmed down once we brought him into our hotel. We have not seen a lot of smiles although we did hear his little voice a few times. We were told that his foster family has been preparing him and telling him about this next step in his life. They are awesome! 

 

We got to meet the foster dad today as he came with the mom to the agency. They broke my heart, so in love with our boy. We gave the mom a bouquet of flowers although there aren't really any proper ways to truly thank her. We walked out with four bags filled to brim with stuff and she made food for Sawyer for the next few days. Everything was neatly prepared and put in containers.  Naturally, I was crying when it was time to say goodbye. His foster dad took his cheeks in his hands and planted a big, huge kiss on his forehead, whispered to him in Korean and stood back. At first his foster mom did not want to hold him again. I had picked him up and he was doing well in my arms, so she didn’t want to disturb him. I told her “really it’s okay” and she took him and held him close as tears filled her eyes. A tight squeeze and big kiss then we all walked to the elevator and he was handed back to me. He cried and cried as did I. Such wonderful people!

 

He has done very well, ate dinner and played in a bath. He cries occasionally but is really doing excellent so far. We are just waking up and slept okay. I included some pictures of the flowers, beautiful flower shop, "american" section at the grocery store across from our hotel and of course him.

 

Welcome to our family Sawyer Nathaniel Harang Cook 

 

 

 

They said four weeks...

It’s good that I can type this journey out and don't have to talk to everyone to share it. Right now I have a bad cold and if you could hear my voice, you might mistake me for a chain smoking man. So I am thankful for words on paper.

 

Last week I talked with my caseworker as a follow up from our first trip. We also discussed some legal documents regarding Charlie and his legal name. I’ll spare you the boring details, but seriously if one division of the government could talk to another division and they could all get on the same page, that’d be great. Enough said. So, when she called me yesterday, I figured it was a follow up from our previous conversation.

 

She asked how I was after hearing the condition of my voice over the phone and I explained about the cough thing. Then she said, “well get better soon because you are due back in Korea two weeks from today.”  That news did not help my cough. After getting myself back under control and clearing my voice, all I could say was “WHAT?”

 

With Charlie, they told us to expect 4-6 weeks. It went just like they said, we had been home almost four weeks when we got a call that we needed to be in Korea in about ten days. They told us the same thing this time. We've only been home ten days. We booked flights last night for thirteen days from now.  We will be home with Sawyer six days after that. This process!! It’s so hard on a person who likes to plan, like me. But my goodness, am I thrilled! He is coming home!

 

So last night as I lay on the couch, willing my body to get better, for the fifth night in a row. I got thinking about God. I just really like Him, even if He keeps throwing me curve balls. Why is this time around going so fast compared to last time? I don't know. Why has this time been pretty seamless and last time it was as crooked as can be? I don't know.  What I do know is His faithfulness is the same. 

 

You might remember my post about us believing to get Sawyer home in November. That didn’t happen, another thing to add to my “I don't know why” list. You might also remember me asking for prayers because we were told that best case scenario we would hear something in March and worst case scenario would be June. I was devastated and worried because we had vouchers from last year's Spring Break that had to be used before April. All I could see was situations out of my control, but if I’ve learned one thing, He works best where I have no control.

 

Here’s what He did in those situations.

Less than two weeks after we were told March would be the soonest we would hear anything, I got a call telling me we moved through that portion of the process in record time.

Six weeks after that, while at a retreat about adoption, I got our travel call. 

Instead of hearing something by March we traveled IN March.

 Ten days after being home (yesterday) we got our Visa call. 

We will be home with our third son before May.

Last night we went to book our flights and found out that the remaining balance of our vouchers (they were worth almost $6,000) were, in fact, still useable. They expire in five days. 

Ron came out after talking on the phone with the flight desk for over an hour and said: “guess what our grand total is?” I hate guessing games and I can hardly talk so he just told me. Six hundred bucks, which includes us riding home in FIRST CLASS!! The only time I have ever ridden in first class was when we got bumped up on a pretty short flight a few years ago. It was awesome, this will be more awesome. The attendant told him for some reason it was actually cheaper given all our miles, points and vouchers to do first class. Ron didn’t argue. 

 


My best case scenario falls short compared to His provisions. Do you see why I not only like Him, but trust Him?


 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I know this next part is difficult, I am aware of what raw grief and fear look like in the eyes of a baby who doesn’t know what is happening to his world. I know that sleepless night and long days are coming. These times take a toll on marriage and families. I don’t deny that while this all sounds fun, most of it is not.  Adoption is costly on every level for everyone involved.  But since He has proven himself over and over and over again, I can say with confidence, I know He will be there for this, too.  

 

Thank you all for your prayers! I don’t really know how to express what they mean to us, but it’s a lot. This next part is the hardest, especially for Sawyer. It seems that most people think that the process of getting your child home is the journey. When in the fact the journey is just beginning. Please continue to pray. 

"Behold, I am the lord the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?"    Jer 32:27

 

Next Stop. Korea!