26 May The Things I Want to Remember
It is currently May 26, 2018. Gideon has been in our arms for 54 days, and home for 48. We are clearly WAY behind on our blog, but I want to make sure we backtrack just a little bit! After all, we want to remember all the details of our journey to Gideon, and we want this to be as much of a resource as possible for future traveling families. So without further adieu, let’s back up to just one day before we left for Korea…
We’re leaving for Korea. Tomorrow. At 6:40 a.m. At 6:40 a.m. tomorrow, our flight takes off for Dallas, and then on to Incheon, and our lives will never, ever be the same. This is the last night in our home as a family of two. This is the last night Ellie the Cat will sleep with us on our bed, completely oblivious to the tiny human about to rock her world (and ours).
Ellie is currently snoring (seriously, she snores) by the fire. I’m finishing up work on the couch, toes freshly painted so I can’t move. My coffee is still sitting on the table, completely cold from this morning. And I am desperately trying to hold on just a little bit longer.
We could not be more excited for Gideon! This is everything we’ve waited for since our very first date (good thing God knew we’d eventually get married, because otherwise adopting a child together may have been a bit awkward, haha). But this time is also bittersweet. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the end of this 14-month adoption journey. The longest, hardest, messiest, most beautiful, most tear-filled, most heart-wrenching, most overwhelming, most miraculous, most redemptive 14 months of our entire lives.
And I don’t think I fully realized, until this very moment, how much being a “waiting family” had become part of our identity. I’m terrified of losing the community we’ve found in the adoption world. I’m terrified of losing the hundreds and hundreds of people who have prayed this kid home. I’m terrified, because we’re two 27-year-olds about to travel half-way round the world to make a 27-month-old little boy who doesn’t know English, who has never been in an airplane, and doesn’t like strangers our SON. I think we have every right to be terrified, right?
So, for today, I want to hold on to the little memories. I want to write them down, feel them again, and then record them, right here. I am absolutely confident we will look back a year from now (or even next Monday when we become a family of three forever) and wonder what life looked like before Gideon. So, for today, these are the sweet things I want to remember from this season of our life that is rapidly drawing to a close.
An Anonymous Stranger Paying Off Our Loan
While we were on the plane to Korea last trip, I received an email from an anonymous person (they had made a special email account just to contact us) asking to pay off every last penny of our adoption loan. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read it, and I immediately started weeping. We wrote back and forth a bit, and I asked them if they were quite sure they wanted to do this. After all, we still owed almost $8000! And they said yes, God had very clearly led them to bless us by forgiving all of our debt, and to do so anonymously so that He got all the glory. On the day we met Gideon, a check showed up to our bank from out of state (and a state in which we know no one). It truly brings me to tears thinking about the gift this was for us. Through all the unknowns, through all the surprise expenses (hello, taking custody during cherry blossom season), we were able to rest in the fact that God took care of everything. Every single detail. And right on time.
Sunday Afternoon Naps
Brian and I volunteer as Preschool Worship leaders every Sunday morning. Don’t be fooled – we can’t sing, dance, or act. But every week, we are so excited to get up on that stage and worship Jesus with 30 of the sweetest, most kindhearted humans on the planet. And then we are excited to head down the hallway to our Young Marrieds Without Children small group. And then we are EXTRA excited to come home and nap all afternoon. Because worshipping Jesus with 30 of the sweetest, most kindhearted humans on the planet is exhausting, y’all.
Morning Coffee with Ellie
I currently work from home, so every morning around 6 a.m., I wake up, make some coffee in the dark, and then head upstairs to get an early start on my work day. And every day, Ellie follows me into the kitchen, walks over to the back door, and then excitedly meows for a solid 3-4 minutes, which we joke is her reporting the news of the day. She then follows me upstairs while I get settled, and then she’ll meander back downstairs and go back to sleep with Brian until he gets up for work. Every day.
The Looks I Get When I Tell People We’re Having a Baby in Three Weeks
Seriously, this is one of the best parts about adoption. No joke. Over the past few weeks, we’ve really tried to spend quality time with our local friends and family, and we live in a small(ish) town where the Hardy family has lived for decades. So that has meant lots of running into people who have known me since I was a child but haven’t seen me in years. Without fail, my dad or sister will remind them who I am and excitedly add, “She’s expecting a little boy in 3 weeks!” And without fail, the poor, unassuming stranger will look me up and down, say “HOW MANY WEEKS?,” and we’ll laugh. I’ll generally make some comment about how I look good for 37 weeks, and then we will explain that little buddy is coming from South Korea, at which point the poor, unassuming stranger will laugh along with us. It’s quite fun. At least for us.
Small Group Updates
Our Young Marrieds Without Kids small group had its kickoff Sunday at our church the very same week Brian and I decided we were going to sign the paperwork to formally begin our adoption. We announced our secret the very first week (we hadn’t told anyone yet), and these amazing couples have walked this journey with us ever since. Every bad report, every good report, every tearful Sunday, and every celebration. Someone always remembered to ask us for any updates about Gideon during prayer request time, and it meant the whole world to us, especially in the long months of basically nothing exciting happening! It also meant the whole world to us when our small group threw us a shower the week before Korea! We got over SIX HUNDRED diapers, which will hopefully last us well into the window before potty training. Or maybe not, we might be naive first parents.
And for the record, over half of our Young Married couples are now expecting or have babies, so we took a vote and decided to just drop the “Without Kids” part of our class name. We aren’t going anywhere, haha.
Parks and Rec (and Korean Ramen)
Before we got married, Brian and I swore we would always eat dinner together at the table. But then I started working night shift, and we quickly began eating dinner at the coffee table while watching Netflix. I was always too tired to chat, so that became our “thing” before I headed off to another shift at work. And it’s lasted almost 5 years into marriage, still one of our very favorite routines together! Every night, we turn on reruns of Parks and Rec, The Office, or Psych, and we enjoy dinner together, full of laughing and snuggling. And almost always Korean Ramen, because it’s currently our favorite food and we really don’t like to cook (and the fact that it’s Korean makes it okay to eat ramen, duh).
Target and Coffee and Diapers, Oh My
For months and months, I dreamed about the day I would get to go to Target and buy clothes for our baby. Usually we’re yard sale sort of people (if you know Brian, you know yard sale season is one of his very favorite times of year), but I knew we’d be doing some last minute shopping between court and custody, and in my mind, that day was going to be absolutely perfect. Much to my surprise, that day was actually just as perfect as I had dreamed it would be! Last Saturday, I set our bright and early for Target. I bought coffee, borrowed one of those cup-holder things for the cart like the snobby person I never wanted to be, and I spent 3 glorious hours going up and down and up and down the baby aisles at Target while Brian was at work. I bought clothes, wipes, diapers, Pediasure…all of the things I had been dying to buy for the past 14 months. And I truly, honest to goodness, felt like a mom in that moment. Maybe for the first time. I happened to run into our friends – Jeremy and Rachel – and Rach even helped me pick out one of Gideon’s outfits. And then I made my way to checkout, not even caring that I had just spent nearly $300 on essentials. Because I felt like a mom. And the day had finally come that we were going back to Korea!
Ice Cream Dates with Kelli
I met Kelli through one of our Young Marrieds small group couples at the very beginning of our adoption process, not knowing at the time that we were both pursuing the exact same program with the exact same agency! Within a few hours of meeting, I knew I wanted to be friends with this girl forever. And we have met nearly every week for late-night ice cream dates at her house and chatting about our adoption process – everything from EP to birth moms to care packages. Kelli brought their little guy home in January, and we can’t wait for Oliver and Gideon to be best friends (and also to have a zoo date in the few weeks our maternity leaves overlap!). We keep joking that, with 3 young toddlers between us, our 1:00 a.m. ice cream dates may have to end. But somehow, we never call it a night earlier, because it’s just too good.
Leaving the Christmas Tree Up for Five Months
Back when we started our adoption process in February 2017, I was convinced we would have Gideon home by Christmas. So sure, in fact, that I told Brian when we dragged out our Christmas tree in November that it was staying up until Gideon came home. Well, delays happened. Life happened. And, in one of the hardest realizations of my life, Gideon did not come home by Christmas. As December turned into January, which turned into February, which then turned to March and April, I still couldn’t bear the thought of taking down our Christmas tree until Gideon came home. So we got to enjoy our little Charlie Brown tree half-way to Christmas this year!
Families Reaching Out Through Our Blog
We have met, no joke, at least 100 families this year, all somewhere in the adoption process. Many of the fellow mamas find me on Instagram or through our blog, and it has been one of the greatest joys to talk about adoption together! Brian and I also get lots of questions and emails from families considering adoption (or simply confused about the Korea program), and we absolutely LOVE getting to answer those emails and messages. I hope people always know they can reach out to us with questions! I felt like a stalker when I first started “friending” other adoptive families I didn’t know on Facebook or Instagram, but everyone was so welcoming and helpful, and we hope we can be that family for other adoptive families following in our footsteps! And we hope Gideon’s story will continue changing the world of orphan care.
The last 14 months have been full of weird “hobbies” – applying for grants, getting really good at estimating UPS-overnight costs, researching court processes and judge turnovers from websites completely in Korean, learning as much as we possibly could about Exit Permits and judges and birth moms, studying Korean words. And discussing all of those things with a core tribe of people who have come to be like family to us. I’m not going to try to list all of our tribe here, but you know who you are, and we love you. At some point we will have to find some new hobbies. 😉 Also, I somehow gained the reputation as being the expert on all things Seoul Family Court, which I find hilarious.
I so hope our community won’t disappear after Gideon comes home, but having literally hundreds of people around the world praying for us and our son has been one of the most humbling experiences of our lives. SO MANY OF YOU have emailed, texted, or messaged us, just to check in or to express your excitement. Literally, not a day has gone by without someone reaching out to us, and I love that. SO MANY OF YOU have asked questions about our adoption (or about adoption in general) and we love that too. Our prayer is that Gideon’s story continues to bring people together. And to bring kiddos home to families too!
I am sure there are many more things I’d like to hold onto during this season. But by now, a full day has passed, and I’m wrapping up this post in the Dallas airport, just 30 minutes before we board the plane to Incheon, South Korea! Giddy Bean, you are our greatest adventure yet. Mommy and Daddy are coming for you, little bud!