Our journey to adoption officially began on July 31, 2002. As the parents of three biological sons, who were 13, 12 and 9 at the time, we longed to add a daughter to our family. We tried to add to our family the old fashioned way, but soon found I was suffering from secondary infertility. I did become pregnant in Dec. of 2000. but suffered a miscarriage shortly after finding out I was pregnant. During this time of trying to conceive, I began to research adoption. I requested information packages from a number of adoption agencies, and would leave them strategically placed throughout the house where my husband, Dave would stumble across them. Dave was a hard sell on adoption. Not that he was opposed to adoption in general, but the cost seemed prohibitively expensive, and with three children already in the home and only one income, it appeared that raising the funds for an adoption would be insurmountable. So began my subtle campaign to win Dave over to adoption.
I read. Everything I came across that related to adoption I read, and duly reported to Dave. I ran numerous searches on-line and learned of the adoption tax credit. I found out the military offered a re-imbursement for internationally adopted children. (Dave was active duty Air Force at the time.) This continued for almost two years. Then finally in February of 2002 he FINALLY agreed to attend an informational meeting at a local adoption agency. I was ecstatic. Though the war was far from being over, I felt victorious in winning this minor battle. I awoke the morning of the informational meeting to a steely gray sky, with the threat of snow on the horizon, (as is quite typical of New England in February) My worst fear was realized later that day when I received a call saying the meeting had been canceled due to the bad weather. They couldn’t! Didn’t they realize what it had taken for me to get Dave to agree to this one meeting? Ok, I’d gotten him to agree once, getting him there next month shouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong. Between his work/travel schedule, our sons various activities, and life in general it would take another 5 long months to get him to go. Finally, for real this time, we attended the informational meeting, with him promising to” listen,” but nothing more. I was sold, of course, I’d already made up my mind and had even picked the agency I wanted to use, but my hands were tied in proceeding until Dave agreed. All I could hope for was that he’d listen to what was being said, that his heart would soften, and that he’d sign, not only the application form that I’d already filled out, but the check that needed to accompany the application.
He didn’t say much on the ride home from the meeting; the one thing he did say was “I’ll think about it.” Which was something I suppose? I wondered just how long he intended to keep me in suspense. He could really get me with this, leave me hanging, waiting with baited breath for his answer. He knew how hard it was for me to wait. I love Christmas, but hate waiting to find out what’s wrapped in all the shiny packages under the tree. (Everyone’s, not just my own.) I was so excited about the new anniversary band I got him for our tenth anniversary; I gave it to him two months early. So he had me. All I wanted was an answer, preferably yes, but I would accept a no. The next morning, Aug. 1, 2002, as Dave was leaving for work, with tears welling up in my eyes, I asked him, “Just exactly how long do you intend to think things over?” He gave me a wicked smile, and said “Mail in the application Shelley, let’s do it!”
So began our journey, and what a circuitous journey it was. I was convinced our daughter was in China. I read all the books, checked out travel videos from the library, everything I could think of, I did.
We met with our social worker for the first time in Sept. 2002; she was a very kind, pleasant young woman that we both seemed to get along with. In discussing which country to adopt from, she mentioned the Philippines; had we thought of that? No we hadn’t, but we would discuss it. So after serious thought and much discussion we applied to the Philippines program, finished up our dossier, and in Nov. 2002 we officially became a waiting family.
Did I mention I don’t wait well? I did ok for the first couple of months, and when I wasn’t so ok, I’d call our social worker with what I called “the waiting crazies”, and she’d talk me through them. She did suggest going to one of the agencies medical symposiums where an international Doctor presented information on what we could expect of the medical information that would come along with our referral. So February 2003 found us signing into the medical symposium. Now don’t you just know that the agency had strategically placed their book of waiting children where all of us would be parents could see it? So I, being the curious person that I am, looked through it. There was one little girl that caught my eye. I must have had a hopeful look on my face because when I looked at Dave he kind of scowled at me and shook his head. (He can read my mind sometimes.) “We are going to wait for our referral.” Bah, what did he know?
So the next day I e-mailed the waiting children’s coordinator and requested information on this little girl. Unfortunately her special need was too great for our very active family, so we had to say no. From that point on we started receiving information on all of the new waiting little girls for the Korea program. (We were not required to prepare another dossier to adopt from Korea.) A few times a month we’d/I’d receive an e-mail with information on baby girls from Korea. There were two little girls on separate occasions that we were interested in. One reason being they were young infants. When we had agreed to adopt from the Philippines, we had to agree to adopt a child a little older than what we had originally requested, because we had already parented young children. We did in fact request to be matched with these little girls, but happily they went to the families they were meant to. I was happy they were matched, but a little disappointed that it wasn’t with us. I wasn’t nearly as disappointed as I thought I might be, which made me stop and think and realize neither of them were daughter.
In April 2003, one file came through the e-mail of a five months old, tiny little girl. Well, actually her body was tiny, but her head was LARGE. (Disproportionately large in comparison to her body.) She was a 29 weeks preemie, and according to my second child, “Looked like an alien.” Well I didn’t know about the alien part, but I did know 29 weeks was very early, too early to consider with three active sons. Not long after seeing tiny Yung Eun’s photo, I started dreaming about her. Actually I was haunted by those big, dark, bright eyes, they were speaking to me and I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I did keep track of Yung Eun, I e-mailed the waiting children’s coordinator and inquired after her; had she been matched? Was she still available? The answer was always the same, she had not been matched. So in my typical fashion, when I don’t know about something, I do research. It kept my mind off the waiting for our referral, we were at 5 months of waiting at this point (did I mention that I’m not a very good waiter?), plus I wanted to find out how well preemie’s less than 30 weeks thrived. Do they have major problems? What exactly was a grade one brain bleed? She was only on oxygen for one day, that was good wasn’t it? Her apgar’s were 8 and 8, that too is good, isn’t it? All the while, those beautiful dark eyes were speaking to me in my dreams, telling me something that I couldn’t remember the next morning. Then one morning I knew what she was saying, what she’d been saying from the first time I laid eyes on that beautiful little girl, she was saying “Mommy!” When I asked if she was my daughter, she said “Yes!!” Whew I’m glad I figured that out, now the tough part, how to convince Dave and my three sons, that this tiny, baby girl was ours.
I didn’t think anything could be more difficult than getting him to agree to adopting, BOY was I wrong!!! I know most of his objections were due to fear, after all she WAS a 29 weeks preemie, our dear son #2 had convinced him she really did look like an alien; but part of it was he felt we needed to wait “our turn” for a referral. That we had agreed on a plan, and we needed to follow it through. Plus the fact that the Korean program was one of the most expensive programs around was not helping my case at all. I finally got him to agree to have an international doctor review her records and to wait to make a decision from there. While the Doctor couldn’t make any guarantee’s he felt that tiny Yung Eun would grow up to be a healthy , normal child. (Something that I knew all along.) So with some trepidation, Dave agreed to ask to be matched with Yung Eun. The day of the matching meeting I was a nervous wreck. I told Dave and our social worker, that if we weren’t matched this time, we’d get off the waiting children’s list and go back to waiting for our referral. I couldn’t take any more of this. I knew regardless of whether we were matched or not our social worker would call and let me know, so it was with a shaking hand and heavy heart that I answered the phone that afternoon. She was ours, well not physically, but we had been matched with tiny, bright eyed, beautiful Yung Eun.
We officially accepted her referral On June 9, 2003. Oh no, another wait. This time I knew it was going to be much worse as we were waiting to bring her home. Dave did say one thing, and he was not to be disputed, “She will have to be escorted, we are already way over what we had planned on for adoption expenses, and there’s just no way we can travel.” (Ha famous last words.) I again, started on my subtle campaign to get him to agree to at least me traveling. Her transition was going to be traumatic enough without factoring in an escort or two into the equation. Little did I know, that an angel in the disguise of a photograph, was about to make my job of getting Dave to agree to travel as easy as pie. Two weeks after accepting our referral we received an updated photo of baby Yung Eun. Well to make a long story short, as soon as Dave saw that updated photo of our precious Yung Eun, he decided that not only was I traveling, he was going too!!! After that photo came in the mail you’d have thought that Dave invented adoption. The difference between the two photos was amazing. The first was this tiny frail, bright eyed baby, and the new photo was of a smiling, chubby, and yes, still bright eyed baby girl. Dave’s fears were all but laid to rest and he knew that Emma Yung Eun was his daughter.
We left for Korea on Aug.3, 2003. We met our dear sweet Emma on Aug. 5th, (she was 81/2 months old), and Dave was completely smitten. I on the other hand wasn’t the complete bowl of jell-o I’d expected to be. I didn’t sob, which is saying a lot because I cry at the drop of a hat) I just sat back and watched Dave once I’d had a chance to hold her for a moment. That is until she gave me a belly laugh, you know, the one that only a baby can give. That’s when I melted; when the realization hit that she was our daughter and we were finally going to be a family.
We left Korea on Aug. 8th at 10:30 a.m. and arrived in Boston Ma. on Aug. 8th at 7:30 p.m. after two lay-overs and about 24 hours of traveling (Talk about messing with your mind.) to be greeted by our three sons and our parents. Thankfully Emma traveled very well. She didn’t sleep much, which actually worked to our advantage as she didn’t have her days and nights mixed up.
Today Emma is a happy, healthy, curious 2 ½ year old. She is loved dearly by her Mommy, Daddy and four brothers’. God is a great and giving God, and in his wisdom or humor he decided to make Emma a big sister eight months after coming home from Korea. Ten days upon our return from our daughters’ birth country we found out that I was six weeks pregnant and shortly thereafter that we were expecting son number four. Three to five children in less than a year was an adjustment that we weren’t expecting, but once we got over the initial shock we quickly rose to the occasion. We received all of the comments about, “you know, people ALWAYS get pregnant once they adopt.” Sometimes I educate them and tell them it’s not as common as they think, other times I just nod and smile and go on my way. Our house is busy and noisy and cluttered most of the time. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well I did mention to Dave the other day that Emma did need a sister… And so it begins again.