Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 4

I'll be honest - the waiting wasn't a walk in a corn field, that first time around, but it wasn't the end of the world, either. We were incapable of fathoming, at that kidless place in our life, what would be ours at the other end of the wait. We were excited to become parents in the way you might be excited to go to Disney World for the very first time. You've heard the hype, and you believe it, but until you lay eyes on that castle? Well, it's all a bit theoretical.

We knew by then that our child would most likely be a boy. So, we painted the walls blue and ripped out the existing pink carpet. We sanded down floors and I launched an exhaustive search for the perfect painting of a fishing boat.

I remember lying in bed at night, our room pristine, our home quiet enough to classify as its own genre of sound, praying for an almond-eyed, shiny-haired life, a whole world away. It was strange, knowing that my child was alive somewhere, making his way, yet still a stranger to me.

I was also aware that there was a grieving almond-eyed birth mother somewhere, adrift and forever changed. I felt the early bruises of being on the receiving end of "the collision of forfeit and gift"*. What I could not have known then was that those yellow-tinged bruises would take up permanent residence in the chapter of my heart which carries my love for the First
Mommies of all my children.

Never knowing how to pray for certain, we covered all our bases. We prayed for the life of our future baby, only a twinkle in his heavenly Father's eye. Later, we prayed for our baby, in his birth mama's tummy. Toward the end, we prayed for our son, out in the world, waiting for his family. We never knew for sure where we really were in this waiting game.

Sitting at my desk on an ordinary June day, the phone rang.

Amid piles of months and paperwork, hopes barely clearing the doorways, nerves bundled up and stacked, anticipation oozing between the floorboards, I was not prepared. Across the line, she told me all about him while tears dripped onto my work and I marveled, right then and there, that I had already become that Mom whose emotions stand guard in vigilance, inextricably connected to the life of another.

The next day I worked, or, pretended to work from the impractical iron chair on the porch, awaiting a delivery of photos from the FedEx man. They arrived and, scooping up every ounce of musterable self-control, I waited for Cory to get his tail home. Together we saw, for the first time, the eyes of our son. Perfection is what we saw. Perfection, wrapped up in a romper, propped up on a large, orange chair.

I made the rounds the following day wearing an Asian-print skirt, armed with everything I knew of Calvin Lee, which wasn't very much, but was more than enough. I showed him off and when others cried, I joined right in.

I didn't know how to be a mommy yet. I had not received special training overnight. There was not an instruction manual included in the FedEx envelope. I was still Shannan and I was still the same, except for one little detail - A round-faced, tightly fisted, mohawk-sporting little dude had infiltrated my heart and my soul.

We braced ourselves for the next 3-4 months, already bearing down on us after just a few days. The wait had officially become torturous. More times a day than I could count, I stared at his photo and did my best to memorize him.

I was his mommy, and knowing that changed every last thing.


Join me here next Tuesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 5

(To catch up on Chapters 1-3, click here and start from the bottom.)

*This is a favorite quote found in a book several years ago. That's all I remember for now. I'll have to get back to you...


  1. I know I say this every week, but I am in love with this story!!! This should be a book Shannan. xx

  2. How wonderful it is that you are his mommy for you and Cory. And for who would be his sister and brother. Our Ruby and Silas. XOXO Vickie

  3. As much as we all love this story, your kids will love it a thousand times more. It's their story. And we just get to read over their shoulders. Thanks for that!

  4. oh how i remember the day we looked at our hudson for the first time over the computer screen. "he's ours!" i whispered to clint "he's ours, isn't he?" amazing moments.

    i love your story. :)

  5. I remember that day so well, the day Cal was born from my mind right into my heart.

  6. I love reading these posts Shannan. You describe everything perfectly, you seriously should write a book...I would buy it :) Your kids will love reading this someday and will know how badly they were wanted.


  7. WOWZERS! It's like you took my hand and we went for a walk. Your walk. Such a touching way of sharing your journey. Thank you!

  8. S, you have captured
    that first hold on
    our hearts so well,
    here. I cannot imagine
    how difficult that wait
    to pick up your son
    must have been. What
    a lesson in patience
    is what I told myself
    when we were on our own
    journey towards parenthood.
    But in the end, the destination
    is so worth it. LOOK
    at that smiling little
    face. Wonderful post and
    it really gave me goosebumps.
    xx Suzanne

  9. You are bringing me back to a place of so many sweet memories--falling forever in love with my son half a world away, from the moment I held his picture. We traveled after Christmas, and I couldn't sing the words, "Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care" without dissolving into tears, Though I couldn't yet hold him, I knew my son's loving Father held him close for me. Thank you for reminding me of these things.

  10. This made me cry into my coffee cup. Thanks so much for sharing your sweet story. :)

  11. Wow Shannan! What a wait that must have been! He was and is adorable! God creates a little scientist/chemist half way around the world and brings him to his momma and daddy knowing that they are perfect for each other, knowing that they have have always been meant for each other. I am in awe of our God. I am in love with this series!

  12. And when you write about crying...I join right in.

    I know I have pestered you for months, but I'm so serious that needs to be sent off, and bound into a book...so a girl like me can have this in my hands on paper sitting by my big green chair. Adoption books have been overwhelming, hard to understand, and impersonal...

    I appreciate the transparency. I appreciate the fact you let God write through you. I appreciate you.

  13. My brother is adopted from El Salvador and I remember that day from a 4-year-old perspective, the learning he was coming, his name and his face and bits of his story. Now that I'm a mom myself, it's so very, very good to hear what it was like as a mother, too.

  14. We are in the praying stage of our Adoption story and learning to wait patiently for the Lord to act. In fact, just last night, I layed in bed, awake, asking God to comfort our child in his/her loneliness and that He would wrap His arms around him/her, keep them warm and loved.
    This post brought me so much joy, excitement, insight, and comfort. Thank you!

  15. Every week I cry. Do you know that? What a powerful series you have put together for us to share in your life. He was so adorable (my daughter had that same mohawk for 12 months!) & I can't imagine how that wait felt for you to meet your son. Today I go to my first ultrasound to see our baby - I am very excited :)

  16. I'm extremely emotional this week and I cried on this one. Heck, I cried on the trailer for Secretariat this morning. But this is different. You have so much love for a child that you didn't even know and your love grows everyday. You have got me tuned in...it's like a show and you can't wait to see what's going to happen next week.

  17. Again, thank you for sharing your heart on this journey.

  18. Oh I love this. Thank you for sharing! I'm a blubbering mess!

  19. I love this...your children are blessed to have found a momma that adores them.

  20. Oh how I love you sweet girl. You just melt my heart everytime you write about your little ones and this incredible journey of motherhood. That picture of him is just precious. I'd be showing everyone and crying too. I absolutely love hearing these stories. Such a great idea. Keep them comin'!

  21. Love this. You know I do. I've never seen Calvin's Lee's referral picture...and my, oh, my. I'm a-puddle.

    I know the torture of that wait.

    I love that quote, "the collision of forfeit and gift." Lily is starting to recognize that collision in her own heart. What her birth mother gave up and what she herself had to give up, still has to give up. This is a difficult path to walk down, and I want to protect her from all the "forfeit" parts. But we are walking this path hand-in-hand, discovering God's own big hand in it all.

    She asked me this week if I'd ever seen a real, live miracle before. I couldn't hold back the tears as I shared with her that she is God's miracle to me every day.

    As I know C, R, and S are to you!

    Love to you and your miracles,

  22. How I remember my own phonecall telling me about my little girl. I had sat glued to the chair for many days waiting for the 'call'. My son had to go to Pittsburgh to the doctors and I reluctantly took him fearing I'd get the call and I wouldn't be there. Sure enough, it came but my older son took the call and the information and called us at the doctor's office to relay the good news! Other then the call to tell us she was arriving from Korea, it was the most important phonecall ever!

  23. Your writing is so beautiful that I hope you take the time to write a book someday.

  24. beautiful post. brought tears to my eyes. that feeling of a mother being so completely in love with her baby is universal- no matter who, what, when, where or how!

  25. I'll never forget my daughter crying the morning I was bringing her home from the hospital, and nothing I, or the nurses did would make her stop! I thought "Everything I've done and been before hasn't prepared me for this," and I was right. She's going to college next year, and the time flies!

    Just remember, there are no rules that apply to every situation, so don't try to figure out what the "right" thing to do is. Do what is right for you and your son!

  26. how blessed your children are... xo

  27. So fun to read your adoption story! And thanks for the realistic viewpoint. We have dreamed of adoption, but it seems so overwhelming and complicated. Oh yeah, and expensive! It is great to read your firsthand experience.

  28. I can't get over how similar our stories are on this part of the process to our sons.
    Even though I had been a mom for 13 yrs.(to our bio.kids) I wondered if I could be mom to someone who was half a world away. Oh the nights I too layed in bed praying for this little man I only had three pictures of. To be honest with you I still lay in bed and pray that someday I will meet my sons two other moms (birth/foster) before me in heaven and tell them how much I appreciate their love for this boy who I am so blessed to raise.
    As far as your sons name, our sons name is Gavin and almost took my husbands middle name of Lee. To funny!
    Thank You again for sharing your story.

  29. That picture is total sweetness! How could anyone not fall instantly in love with that face?

  30. I had to go back and read this again. Goose bumps... Love it