Last Christmas a friend gave us a “Rain for Roots” album devoted to waiting for the coming of Christ during the season of Advent. One of the songs repeats a simple but profound chorus: “It’s hard to wait, so hard to wait.” Our family has been in a season of waiting ever since we received the joyful news that we were matched with a 5-month-old baby boy from South Korea last September. From the moment we saw his picture, he was ours, and we were immediately ready to bring him home. Unfortunately, the adoption process is a bit more complex than that, and we knew that months of waiting lay ahead of us as both the Korean and American governments approved various stages of the process. We were thrilled to receive an update about our sweet boy in November, but we have now entered an unknown period of waiting as the Korean government prepares our exit paperwork and schedules our court dates. Sometimes the waiting can feel excruciating as we consider the phases of our son’s life that we are missing (Did he learn to walk today? What new words has he learned?), but we believe that God called us to adopt, and we trust that His timing is perfect. So as we wait, we have chosen to spend our time in prayer and preparation.
We were praying for our son long before he was born, and we believe that prayer is our most effective parenting tool as we wait to bring him home. Our two biological children, ages 4 and 7, never go to bed without praying for their little brother, and we know that the simple act of prayer knits us together as a family even when we are far apart. We trust that God is with him every moment, and we pray that He will give our son’s foster family wisdom and patience to care for him well in our absence.
Our time of preparation feels a lot like the “nesting” period of preparing for a new baby with the added incentive to educate ourselves about our son’s Korean culture and heritage. Prior to our match, we felt like being “responsible adoptive parents” meant being efficient with our paperwork, but now that we have hit a lull in paperwork, we have shifted our efforts to preparing our home and family to welcome our son. On a practical level, we are painting bedrooms and rearranging closets to make room for a third child. We have organized our basement to create more space for all three children to play, and we are trying to finish various projects in our house so that we can focus solely on helping our son adjust to his new environment when he comes home.
We have had the most fun learning about South Korea’s rich culture and history. My husband and I have been reading books about South Korean adoption recommended to us by other adoptive families, and we have found several engaging children’s books about South Korean culture, food, and language that our kids have really enjoyed. One of their favorite books is about the popular Korean dish “Bee-Bim-Bop” (which translates “mixed up rice”), so we learned to cook the dish ourselves. Our daughter now claims that “Bee-Bim-Bop” is her “second favorite food” (macaroni and cheese still tops the list). Although we have not developed a taste for South Korea’s most popular dish, kimchee (spicy fermented cabbage), we hope that cooking Bee-Bim-Bop for our son will be a source of comfort as he adjusts to life in America. Along with books about Korean food and language, we found a book of Korean folk songs that we sing and play on the piano to experience some of the music that our son may hear in Seoul. Even small details such a looking at the South Korean weather on our iPhones in the morning helps us to feel more connected to our son’s world.
We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that we have a “village” of people who have made sure that we are not waiting alone. Our friends and family have prayed with us, encouraged us, and engaged in the process with us. Other adoptive families have given us practical advice and even thoughtful gifts at particularly difficult moments. The wonderful women at CAS and their partner agency FCA in Connecticut have been invaluable sources of knowledge and encouragement from the moment we expressed interest in adoption. We know that we are in such capable hands and that we have tremendous advocates in our corner. It would be impossible to feel “prepared” for this unique journey of adoption, but we have been grateful for this time to grow deeper in love with our son as we anticipate his homecoming. It is hard to wait, but we know that each day brings us closer to our son, and that is something to celebrate.
Michael and Joan