Yesterday was our son Mac’s “Adoption Day”—the day we met him in Colombia 10 years ago. This is the story of that day.
I always thought we would adopt. Aaron and I talked about it while we were dating. I thought, “We’ll have a few kids and then we’ll adopt.” (A baby girl from China was always my plan.) And yet, I have also always secretly felt, deep down, that having biological children might not be in the cards for me. What a surprise last year when little Oliver arrived!
Nine years into our marriage we decided it was time to “try.” Almost immediately we were pregnant. You can imagine the loss (or maybe you can’t and I pray you never do) when weeks later the baby died. It was a year before I had the courage to try again. Exactly one year from the loss of our first pregnancy, we lost baby #2. At my urging, the doctors ran tests and concluded that there was nothing wrong. They encouraged us to try again—third time’s a charm and all. We started considering it about 3 months later, but I just couldn’t do it. I could not go through the pain, the loss, the failure again. For a brief amount of time I even gave up on having children altogether.
I think because of the heartache it was so difficult to see past, adoption didn’t even cross my mind at the time. I just thought, “Aaron and I are happy and have a great life, who needs kids?” But slowly, gently, God started talking to me about adoption. It might seem silly, but over the course of a few weeks adoption came up over and over. A television show I watched regularly did a story on adoption. Randomly, a book on adoption showed up in the place I was working. I heard people talking about it at the grocery. I kept all these “nudges” to myself for some time, honestly thinking I was crazy.
Little did I know, God was working on Aaron’s heart at the exact same time. While on a walk one day, doing some praying, God put a picture in Aaron’s mind. The picture was of the two of us walking down the sidewalk with two children in tow—children who were obviously of another race. Aaron knew immediately that they were our children.
The clincher came a few weeks later, when randomly in the car one night, Aaron says to me, “So, what would you think about adopting some kids? Some kids that don’t look like us?” It was a done deal.
After that, it was full speed ahead. We dove into adoption research. Domestic vs. International. Foster Care vs. Adoption. It’s overwhelming, to say the least, but we muddled our way through and felt led to adopt from Colombia. (I can share our reasons if you’re interested, but as I’ve mentioned before, God had a plan for our lives to be entwined with Colombia forever after.)
We were told the process to adopt an infant from Colombia would take about one year. So when 12 months, 15 months, 18 months came and went we began to get impatient. About 18 months in, our adoption agency told us they did not believe we would ever get a referral from the orphanage where we had applied and had been waiting for over a year. I was crushed. They recommended applying to another orphanage where we would basically start over. When I asked, “How long?” I was told, “We really don’t know, but you need to prepare yourselves that it could be a long time.” It sucked. I almost threw in the towel. But then, one beautiful July day, while Aaron was getting his tires rotated, he got the call that would change our lives forever. We had a son! And only four months after we were told, “It could be a very long time.” We were emailed his picture and I was smitten. He was chubby, with a funny little hairline. We called him George Costanza for 2 days until we settled on a name: Macario Daniel Wright. Macario is a Spanish name, which means blessing, and “Mac,” the name he goes by, is Scottish for son. Daniel is the name his birthmother gave him.
As if our wait had not been hard enough, we were told that the mother of the directress of the orphanage was dying and that it could complicate our presentation day. We were given a date and it was changed. A few days later it changed again. We made our travel plans anyway, praying it would work out. After some serious travel issues (that included a late night cab ride in Panama that I thought would surely end with our bodies being found dismembered in a swamp) we finally arrived in Colombia and were prepared to meet our son the following day, only to be told the mother was now very sick and it would be pushed back one more day. After 2 years of waiting, those 24 hours were by far the longest hours of my entire life. But it came and went and the next morning we were on our way to the home of the orphanage directress. Most presentations happen at the orphanage, but because of the circumstances of the directress’s life at the time, she had arranged for us to meet at her home instead. Colombian adoptions are very formal affairs. Adoptive parents are expected to “dress for the occasion.” There is much small talk and tea drinking, and then there is a lengthy document-signing session to endure before you meet your child. After all that, you present the nurse with a new outfit for the child and the directress finally brings him out.
We arrived at the directress’s house and were told that Mac, his nurse and the directress were running late. I could only think, “You have got to be kidding! ” The minutes ticked by. Finally, we were told they had arrived. But, because of the crazy formality of the process we had to wait to meet him. They made us turn around and close our eyes as he was brought into the house and taken to a back bedroom while we signed the papers!!! So close!
We signed, drank tea, chatted and finally, after long last, it was time. Seated on a sofa in a very small Colombian apartment with a very narrow space between our knees and a coffee table we held hands—and our breath—waiting for his entrance. When the directress entered the room, we stood. There was only one small problem. Aaron was between that baby and me! In a move that is now told in true folklore fashion at our house (and much to the delight of both Mac and Aaron), I elbowed past Aaron, literally knocking him back down on the couch where he sat pinned while I stretched over him and scooped up our son. My heart is racing again just writing about it. He was mine and I was never letting him go. Meanwhile, Aaron sat trapped on the sofa looking up at the two of us. I would deny this whole story about the pushing, but we have it on videotape.
The thing about Mac’s adoption is that we had prayed for two solid years, day in and day out, for this miracle. We prayed for God’s will and that we would be matched with the child that He had chosen for us. We prayed for an instant, permanent bond. I can’t begin to describe it in words, but my connection with Mac was immediate. That tiny, three-month-old boy looked up at me, locked eyes and that was the end … we were bonded. Done! Adoption is not always like that, and I feel very blessed to have had that experience. I can, to this day, feel the weight of his tiny body in my arms.
I did finally let Aaron hold him. Much later.
After a six-week stay in Colombia to finalize the adoption, we brought Mac home to Cincinnati. He is now 10. Time flies.
About 4 months after we were home, we started the discussion about adoption #2.
Stay tuned …
Photo (Flickr CC) by Colores Mari