a year measured in love

presented by j:

last week, we celebrated Kai turning the big one. there were presents. there were balloons. there was cake. there was a child eating cake for the first time. he didn’t know what hit him.

but today we celebrate a different anniversary. it was exactly one year ago today that we actually met our son.

this time last year, we were in Japan. it was my first time to be there, so we spent the first couple of days in Tokyo learning the city and its train system in preparation of whenever we would have to return to get a child. and then we traveled south to Shizuoka to volunteer with our adoption agency for the better part of the week.

we arrived on Friday and called our agency to let them know we were in the city and to find out what time we needed to show up the next day – and also, we needed to know how to get there. Japanese addresses do not translate well on googlemaps. but they were generous enough to want to get together with us for dinner that night and to offer us a ride back-and-forth to our hotel every day that we were there, which was an unexpected blessing for us.

the next morning, we were picked up and our first “task” was to go with the director to a baby supply store because she had a few items she needed to pick up for a new baby they had just gotten the day before at just six days old.

then after we arrived at the agency, Christa went inside but i stayed outside to do some cleaning with two of the director’s sons. after working a couple hours, i finally went inside, left my shoes at the door, climbed up the very Japanese set of stairs, and into the living room.

the first thing i saw when walking in was Christa sitting on the couch with a baby boy asleep in her arms. it was a very natural look for her.

i walked over and asked her, “what are you doing?”

“bonding with this little guy,” she answered.

uh-oh, i thought. she’s getting REALLY ahead of herself.

after all, we had gone there simply to volunteer and finish up our paperwork with them – not to actually get a baby. in fact, we were prepared to wait a long time, because we knew there had to be other families ahead of us.

but little did i know that the baby boy in her arms would turn out to be our son.

and so during the second week of his life, we both got the chance to hold and feed him, not knowing what the future held in store, not knowing that we were loving on the newest member of our family. and we felt so taken in by our agency, really felt like we got to become a part of their family for a week, which was a huge, unexpected blessing for us.

there’s a part of us that wishes we had pictures from that week, but there’s no way we could have known he would turn out to be ours. and we had already decided that we would not take pictures while volunteering out of respect for our agency’s privacy. and there were plenty of other things to do while we were there too – including making copies of life books for birth mothers, and we prayed over those life books and for the women they would go to, praying that our child’s birth mother would be one of the recipients.

on the way home from that trip, we prepared our hearts for the task of waiting, knowing that we may be waiting for a long time. but we also discussed what we would do if our agency called about any of the children we had met there while volunteering. we knew this would be very unlikely. in fact, the only scenario we could think of in which that might happen was if another family backed out of an adoption.  but still, we felt it was better to be prepared for the possibility rather than caught off-guard.

Christa’s take on it was simple: “I would take Tiny Baby in a heartbeat.” “Tiny Baby” (not to be confused with “Tiny Dancer”) is what we called Kai at that time, because he was so small – only a little over five pounds.

and so it was with joyful surprise just four months later when our agency’s director called Christa and said she wanted us to pray about taking him. i never imagined that we would actually get called, (a) that soon, and (b) about a baby we had already seen and held. but that just goes to show the wisdom and knowledge of God.

i was recently on the phone with our agency’s director, catching up with her and i was telling her about how Kai is such a good fit for our family, and i told her, “you did good matching him with us.” her reply to this was beyond perfect: “well, it wasn’t me. it was God.”

and so it was.

now i can hardly believe Kai is that same baby. we realize how blessed we are compared to most adoptive parents that we actually got to hold him as an infant, even if we didn’t know he was ours at the time. and in our gratitude for this, it is not lost on us that there are many families out there who have children in other countries, who have been matched with their child for a year, two years, even longer, and yet they still can’t bring them home. we pray for those families.

i encourage you to watch the documentary¬†Stuck¬†(now on Netflix) and educate yourself about the current trials of international adoption and the wait that so many families have to endure. while time flies for everyone else, it drags for them. a day can be a week. because time is not measured in seconds. it’s measured in love.

and so we celebrate a year that we have known our son, while also remembering those who continue to wait, each second of each day saturated with love.

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