Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 12

For the next few weeks, I will be re-posting the posts I wrote while in South Korea, bringing Siley Pants home. Although I know this will be "old news" to many of you, his story needs to be part of this series, and I can't imagine telling it better than I did in real-time, fueled by Korean oxygen and Bi Bim Bob.

At the bottom of each of these repeat posts, I will share a favorite adoption resource. No scrolling down allowed. The blog police are fiercer than you might think.


And can I just say that I love you, friends? I do. Your encouragement and connection to this adoption story and the regular ol' stories of our little life warm me up on the inside, every day.


(Originally posted Wednesday, March 17, 2010)

It's the middle of the night here and I just woke from a nine hour "nap". It seems we're a little on the mixed-up side right now. Just tell me this - how's a girl supposed to sleep when she knows she'll be meeting her son in just 12 hours?

Looking out our window here at the guest house, it seems that most of the city decidedly does not have my problem. The city's eyes are shut tightly, save the lone man walking down the alleyway, the glow from his cigarette mirroring the orangey cast of the street lamps.

As expected, I find that I am unable to really grasp where I am right now. I find myself looking around, doing my best to take it all in, and thinking, over and over, "Calvin used to live here". In fact, he spent time in the very building in which we are staying. These are things that he and his brother will always share - these snapshots of their earliest beginnings.

I am amazed by the sheer foreignness of Seoul, though I'm sure that sounds silly. All I can say is, it is one thing to read about a country, to watch a documentary about a country; but it is an entirely different thing to walk amongst the people of a country; to ride the subway with them, to purchase their wares, to eat a meal prepared by them.

We are finding that most of the people we encounter here do not speak English. Yes, our Western self-importance had us thinking that many would have a basic, working understanding of our language. The truth is, I like it better this way. I like not having the option of taking the easy road. I like being in the position of acclimating, rather than assuming that those around us will acclimate to us.

I am thankful for the brief, pin-dot-small moments of awareness I have had that I am different here. I look different. I am obvious. In these moments, I have not felt less-than, or scrutinized, I have simply felt "other". It brings to life for me just a tinge of what my kids will very well feel as they live their everyday lives. Unaware as they are right now, I know they will grow increasingly world-wise and I know there will be times when they feel "other".

What I am feeling for my boys, right now, is immense pride in their heritage. Their people are lovely, humble, stylish, kind. I am newly amazed that God's plan for both of them required a trip across the ocean, a detachment from their culture, a forfeiting of their language - their blendability.

My kids, all three of them, have a story that I have never lived. Try as I may, I will never really know what that's like.

I am so proud of their bravery, so inspired by their trust, so honored by their willing hearts.

As I look again out our window, at rooftops frosted with snow and buildings NYC-tall, I want so badly to fold up all of these feelings, wrap them in a red ribbon, and pack them safely away for all of those conversations that are sure to happen in our house as the years go by. I don't want to miss a thing. I don't want to forget a single detail.


Grace from China

It was pure serendipity that led me to this book over five years ago, while I was headfirst in the throes of thumb twiddling, waiting for Calvin Lee to waltz into my heart and my kitchen. The book arrived on the day that I was headed to a conference to work, so I tossed it into my bag for some hotel reading. In typical fashion, a Mexican restaurant wooed me into its lair and I grabbed the book, since everyone knows it's infinitely less awkward to solo dine with a book in hand. In no time flat, I was sniffling into my salsa. And the salsa wasn't even hot.

This book steamrolled me, in the best sort of way. Although we do not have a letter from Calvin or Silas's birth moms, I adopted these notes for them. I curled fingers and heart around these women - women just like me - making a heart-wrenching choice, making it for different reasons, but ultimately, for the very same reason.

I pinned the heart of these stories onto my own, because that's just what you do when you parent a child born from another Mama. Her story becomes yours and yours becomes hers and the life that the two of you love together (apart) begins to see that his story, her story, is ordained. It was not an accident. And it was certainly not a mistake.

I highly recommend this book to any adoptive parent, or any one interested in understand adoption in a truer sense. The stories here are universal and they will move you.


Join me here next Wednesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 13

(To catch up on Chapters 1-11, click here and start from the bottom.)


  1. Your words bring back so many memories. I remember that when we traveled to the Philippines, I felt taller and whiter each time we boarded a plane farther from home and closer to our son. You honor your children's stories well and are a wise, humble woman to know that you theirs are stories you will never have lived. Blessings, adoption mama friend!

  2. I was so moved by you saying how brave your children are because of their adoption this is something I had never ever thought about. My husband is adopted and I have thought of his birth mother and what it must have been like for her to give him up and his adopted mother and father but never how brave my husband had to be to go through this. You have made me think and think hard today for that I thank you and also thank you so much for sharing this series with us. nancy settel

  3. Awwww, this story is never old news. I love that I 'knew' you when. I still remember you emailing me about your $$ shopping trip to Target in preparation to go get your boy. You are one in a million billion Shannan!

  4. Love Bi Bim Bob. Love this series.

    Sometimes the second time around is just as exciting and interesting as it was the first time.

  5. You write so beautifully of your experience. And thank you for the resource at the end. We've been stumbling over how to grow this family of late, since we've been in the domestic "active" homestudy state for more than 18 months and are starting to wonder if we should open other doors to lead us to our second child. By the way, I'm a relatively new reader, and if I read right, it looks like we are both Hoosiers...from opposite ends of the state, anyway. Hello from the Ohio River Valley!

  6. What other books have you read in the process of adopting?

    Did your agency hook you up in Seoul, with the guest house, etc?

  7. I love reading this series. Especially this part. We travel through Seoul on our way to Vladivostok, Russia. Been there three times now....waiting on the fourth. We are in between trips for our third child from Vlad...praying for a court date sometime soon.

    I can't wait to read more about your experiences in Seoul. We only made it out of the airport once to spend the night. We love the people there! They are, oh, so friendly. With the use of 'charades' we were able to communticate!!

    Blessings to you~

  8. Those posts kept me on the edge of my seat wanting more. Love that you shared your thoughts so perfectly.

  9. I have been following your Adoption Series and I find them to be so beautiful. You and your husband are brave and wonderful people and your children are so blessed to be able to be apart of your lives and vice versa! :)

  10. Shannan, you have wrote these stories so wonderfully. Your children are so blessed to have this to look back on that you have taken the time and love to create these for them. They will truly appreciate them someday I'm sure! Hugs, Traci

  11. Shannan..
    When will you publish this very heartwarming and interesting book? You write so beautifully, expressing your deepest feelings for all to feel!
    I would purchase it in a heartbeat.. Just think of the legacy to and for your children!!
    warmest hugs..

  12. these posts were what stirred it all up for me and made me start begging for the "whole" story. guess i know what i'll be shopping for on my lunch break. {do you know that i secretly go out and buy all of your suggested reads?} still wondering what you thought of little bee...

  13. ~ Beautiful post~ Thanks so much for sharing your journey~ HUGS, Rachel :) ~

  14. Hi Shannan, you have truly been blessed with words and you have such an amazing story. I know you spoke about your children's journey, but your path to them is remarkable and truly God's plan for your family. I am glad you are re-posting these as I was not a follower when you went to get your son.

    Thank you again for sharing!

  15. I loved rereading this in the context of this whole series. I loved reading it the first time too but I love that it's part of an even bigger story.
    Once again, thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  16. You're ability to make this story come alive for us, like we are really there too, is just so great, Shannan. I really don't understand why you're not a writer by profession.
    Anyway, really looking forward to next week's post, and I will try really, really hard not to cheat. xx

  17. Love these posts & this ride! I have a similar book called Gifts with stories of Mom's with kids that have DS - I can barely read it - I cry and cry - in a good way that is!

  18. Loved it the first time, love it again! You are a gift to us!!:)

  19. one of these days I'm gonna share our story....Lydia's story.

    My eyes are already welled up with tears....
    that little girl has turned us inside out.

    the journey to her...thinking of her biological mother in China...our journey here as we watch her grow and become all that God intended for her to become....

    I'm wondering when her questions will come...real questions about her story.

    I can't wait to get that book that you suggested.

    just love these posts...I can relate to all of them in such a deep way.

  20. Oh gosh, Shannan, you're going to repost the story that made me cry buckets...I'm ready and waiting.

  21. What a blessing that you understood, at the time, the feeling of "other" and how it would help your children in their futures.