October 2015 we brought home our then 12 year-old son from Thailand. We are now in process to adopt our 7 year daughter from Thailand. Here is our story:
My husband and I talked about adoption even before we got married. We both love children. I had a miscarriage in 2010 and we would talk about adoption from time to time, but in 2013 the Lord started to lay it more on our hearts. We talked to family and friends and they challenged us and asked the hard questions. After much prayer and confirmation we felt peace and were very excited to seek the child the Lord had for us.
In 2008, the Lord showed me a picture of an Asian boy and a girl with dark hair. It made an impression on me at the time, so we felt to search for our Asian son.
We found him in January, 2014! When I saw his picture I felt a connection, I was looking at my son! and, as I read his personality description, I could see many similarities to my husband, Andy.
We sent the first paperwork in April of 2014. It took until October to complete the home study, which included training, lots of paperwork, police clearance, financial statements, medical and psychologist clearance letters, several meetings and a home visit with a social worker. The home study report was the final document to complete our Dossier, which included some similar paperwork (but a different kind), and added some more as the home study. We even had to validate our notaries by notarizing them for our State Capital. It was quite the process!
We are amazed at God’s provision as he prompted friends and family to help support our process. We are so grateful. He is so faithful!!
At first we were the only couple who were interested in our son, but when we submitted our paperwork there were others too. That was hard, as we already felt a connection with him. A committee read through the different applications and decided that we were the best match for him! From the time we were officially matched with our son, we received all his social worker reports, which were amazing to read. We got to know him more, just by reading through all the years’ reports.
The waiting time was very long! Every two months, we could mail a small gift, photos, disposable cameras and letters to him. During the wait time, we were preparing for the transition and learned as much as we could. You can prepare, but every situation, every child and family is unique. It was a big step of faith. We loved preparing his room and getting some clothing for him. We would go in his room and pray for him, dreaming about the day he would be there.
Then one day, out of the blue, we received a letter from our son with the English translation. Our hearts melted. He thanked us for the gifts and told us he would love to have his own bicycle. He also shared that he loved social science and vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce! He ended his letter by saying “Dad, Mom, please be patient and wait for me.” He was very aware of how long the process was taking. He is a treasure.
We hoped we could travel in March 2015, but it seemed the earliest would be November 2015. Then, all of a sudden, they said we have a court date in Thailand in October 2015, which meant we could travel in the beginning of October! That was wonderful news! We got the final confirmation to travel one week before our travel date.
We were so excited to meet him. Getting on the plane knowing we would return with our son was an incredible feeling.
I wrote this the week after we met our son:
“We met our son Tuesday, October 13, 2015.
“What an incredible week we've had. Our son has plenty of personality and has not met a stranger! He is very cute! and he’s keeping us on our toes :) He is a strong leader with a compassionate heart. He loves taking care of younger children and looks out for us, always making sure Andy doesn't forget to get me something when he gets them something, like chocolate :) He has a sense of humor, and the other night, in a store, he had everyone around him laughing. He is a responsible boy and learns very fast. Our prayers have been filled with asking the Lord for wisdom to channel all this energy. His heart is open, is so beautiful. We've had a few moments that needed some talking through, and every time he needed to apologize he did...and of course we to him. He is very quick to remind us to say "thank you" when we don't :)
Transition is a time filled with processing and learning and growing opportunities!”
The morning of meeting our son we felt like we were diving and completely trusting the Lord. We didn't know how to be prepared for that moment. We first met with the social worker in the lobby to talk, knowing our son was outside somewhere waiting to meet us. All of us were a bit nervous when we met but once the social workers went with us to our hotel room we connected. I asked our son to help me wrap the gifts we brought for the foster family who took care of him for almost eight years. He followed me closely and did a very good job at wrapping. We showed him his duffel bag with some clothes we brought for him, and it amazed me how he looked at it and then folded each piece carefully. The social workers went downstairs to give us twenty-five minutes by ourselves with him. We played snap :) Andy went to the bathroom and then our son looked at me and said "I love you Mom". My heart melted!! When Andy joined us he told Andy "I love you Dad". These were some of the phrases he asked his English teacher to teach him to say to us.
The morning he was placed with us was the morning the other adopting families met their Thai children. The social workers asked our son to help with the ones he knew well. He was so good with them and even helped introducing some of the little ones to their parents! His heart is so beautiful.
From the time he was placed with us, we started our routine of watching Superbook in Thai with English subtitles with him every night. (Superbook is available in many languages – google Superbook and the language you are interested in. Powerful Bible stories in cutting edge animation to apply in life situations). He loves it so much that he made a video of the song at the end and played it over and over, and now he knows the words to it! He recorded it on Andy's phone and has listened to it many times, including in public.
In the mornings, we spend time with the Lord together and he listens or reads a Bible story in Thai and then we pray for him, and he writes about the previous day in a diary we got him. He loves these times. Google translation has been an incredible help to us... as well as every bilingual Thai around us :)
[Please agree with us that his hunger for God's Word and Presence will continue to increase in his life and that he will receive heart revelation in the fullness of who God is.]
There were two other US families and three Norwegian families in our group of adopting Thai kids. It was wonderful to spend time with them and share our experiences. Some of the kids knew each other pretty well as they had the same social workers. One family was to be on the same flight as us all the way to the US. Both families were very happy about that!
We all had lunch together and then went to say goodbye to the foster family who lives in a more rural area about 60km outside of Bangkok. It was a very precious moment to share with our son. His friends also came to see him. They were little characters! The foster parents shared with us about him. It was so precious to meet them. I asked our son to write a note for her, and she cried when she read it. They then each spoke a blessing over him, releasing him. The foster dad and our son cried too. It was very special that our son was comfortable to show that kind of emotion in front of us. He calls them aunt and uncle and has been wanting his own “forever family” for a long time. The foster parent's grandchildren, who also live with them, are our son's age. The social workers have been preparing the foster family and our son for a long time. The foster family has had several foster children and there is another one currently living with them. They love our son and our son loves them, so transition is not easy. We are grateful for their love and the home they provided for our son. Kids, who have learned to bond, bond easier with their adopting parents. It takes much longer for kids to bond with their adopting parents if they didn’t bond to a foster family or caregiver.
On our way home he held our hands in the car and cuddled with us. It was so beautiful!!
He was supposed to be placed with us two days after our first meeting, but on the first day he asked if he could stay with us from the next day, so we got him a day early.
We took him shopping to get some basics and soccer and casual shoes. He's never had closed shoes, he’d only had sandals. All his belongings came in two plastic bags and two small backpacks which were filled with little gifts we'd sent him over the last year. Our son LOVES watching and playing soccer. I'm so amazed how similar he and Andy are in so many ways, from soccer to liking broccoli! His face lit up when the lady explained to him in Thai that we are buying him soccer shoes. He could not believe it. He first said no for the second pair of shoes, and we had to explain that he will need that for the plane and for the cold weather in the USA. He was so grateful. The two of them played soccer in the park. I loved watching them play. Our son is so proud to have a dad to play soccer with him. Andy loved every moment.
The afternoon we went to the swimming pool was our son's very first time in a pool. When we came out of the elevator he was dressed in his new swim shorts, vest and sunglasses we brought from the US. The social workers were in the lobby and could not believe how he looked, they all grabbed their cameras to take pictures with him!
He is so cute, and from the first day he's been very affectionate and tells us often that he loves us. We were amazed at how we felt a bond with him. As a family, we went to the beach for the weekend, being as our court date was after the weekend. We stayed in a retreat place for missionaries. It was the perfect place. There were many Westerners working in South East Asia and some of them spoke Thai fluently. It was a very special bonding time for us as a family. It was the first time our son swam in the ocean. He loved it and we could not get him out of the swimming pool! He also loved the smoothie shack. It was so beautiful to see him caring for the younger children. There was a two-year-old English boy that loved him. He also played ping pong, foosball and soccer with kids in his age group. He learned that we like coffee and started to make us coffee :)
We had our court date on Tuesday and we could see that our son was nervous. He showed us the date on the calendar and understood what it meant. We sat in a conference room with desks in a circle with microphones. There were five people, but just two of them interviewed us and asked us why we adopted him and what our plans were regarding education for him, etc. They also asked our son questions in Thai. All went well! After that, we went to the social worker's offices. It was difficult when it was time for him to say goodbye to the social workers who had worked so closely with him. They all love him, which really blessed us! There have been a lot of tears, which again was hard to see him go through, but we are so thankful that he is processing.
He is bonding with both of us, but his focus is more on his dad, which is beautiful to watch. It is normal for a child to first bond more with one parent. I feel a special bond with him, especially at bedtime, and in the morning he tells us several times that the loves us, and he makes sure Andy and I tell each other that we love each other :)
Thursday morning, while worship music was playing, he was lying in Andy's arms crying and sleeping the whole morning, after looking at photos of the social workers...So grateful that he trusts us. Andy was crying with him. He said he got in touch with what our son has been through. At first our son didn't want me there, but later he was okay with me being there. He is processing a lot of emotions. It was the saying goodbye, and I feel, in a way, he felt that day he was betraying the female social workers, even though he may not have understood what he was feeling. They have taken care of him for a long time, and now they are releasing him to me as his mom. (Which they all bless, of course, but so much to process for everyone involved.)
In the beginning he showed me affection in public, but the day he said goodbye to the social workers he explained through the one social worker (she translated) that he is a big boy now (which I understand, as he is 12 years old) and doesn't want to show me affection in public or say he loves me, in public, anymore. When the three of us are together at home, he wants to but not in public. He's continued to tell me he loves me in public but in a way that not everybody can hear :) As I was writing in Bangkok, evening time, I was sitting next to the pool while the boys were swimming, and I heard "Mom!" "Mom!" followed by a whisper "I love you Mom" :) I love this boy.
I wrote: “Thursday was also our US Embassy date. After the crying and processing, we explained to him where we were going and he jumped up and down of excitement. In the Embassy waiting room there was a big American flag and he wrapped himself in it and put it on the other kids who were also being adopted. He talks often about going to America. He told a restaurant owner one night to tell us that he dreamed about going to America with us, his parents. Even the restaurant owner was touched.
“Today we went to a small church of about twenty-five people. Only one percent of the Thailand population is Christian. The pastor is Filipino and married to a Thai lady. He was at the CBN 20-Year celebrations in the Philippines and showed us his picture with Gordon Robertson. It was a very special time for us. A professional soccer player from Nigeria who plays for a Thai team is part of this church! He was away for four months and just happened to return the day we were there. The Lord knows how to reach hearts. Our son loves soccer.
“This week of waiting for our visa is so good for us in getting to know each other. Please keep us in your prayers. We need a lot of wisdom to bridge the language and culture barriers. Please pray for his English. Thank you for your love for us! We are excited for you to meet him. This week we start to give him more formal daily English lessons.”
We got our son’s visa a few days earlier but the time together in Bangkok was important for us as a family. Our son processed some more and we were able to meet again with the main social worker and the Filipino pastor who gave us more valuable cultural information.
The night before our very early departure our son didn’t know how he was going to sleep as he was so excited to go home to America with his parents.
He made sure that we knew where the airport was since we got lost going to the church, and he didn’t want us to get lost going to the airport! He was so excited to arrive at the airport.
On the first flight he asked for extra sick bags. He thought he was going to be sick, but a Thai flight attendant started to talk to him in Thai and pointing to us. She explained to us that somebody told him he was going to be sick and she explained to him not to listen to other people but listen to his parents. We appreciated that moment. He is a good traveler and slept a lot on the planes. We had three flights home, about twenty-eight hours travel time. It was special to be on the journey with another family who adopted a seventeen-month-old girl. Our son adored her, which made the layovers go by faster.
At the airport home, my mom and two couple friends were waiting to meet us. We were told not to have a larger group as it may have been overwhelming for the child. Our son was so excited and had everyone laughing. He loves his Ouma (grandmother). She left for South Africa a few days later.
At first he was afraid of our dogs, as they were barking, but to our surprise he asked if both of them could sleep on his bed. They both did, which also was a surprise to us. He loves his room.
We’ve been home for two weeks. We love getting to know our son. The bond between us is so precious to us. We’ve only known him for a month! We’ve had moments, here and there, that caused us to be grateful for the training and preparation we received, but overall he is transitioning really well. We are learning a lot and value the wisdom other parents are sharing with us.
Our son loves cooking and already cooked for us several times. We brought home a lot of Asian food so we’ve been eating 99% Thai food. Our very first cookbook that we bought as a couple was a Thai cookbook. It is really good food!
We found worship music in Thai and there is one song our son plays over and over. He also found “Chasing You” by Jenn Johnson, Bethel Music, that he plays over and over.
We have a Thai friend whom our son loves, especially the fact that he also loves soccer (and of course he speaks Thai ☺). He’s played soccer with Andy and friends a few times over the weekends, and they were all impressed with our son’s skill. In Thailand he asked if it would be ok for him to still support the Thai soccer teams ☺ He loves different teams around the world and is excited to watch the USA play. He also loves swimming and riding his bicycle. He cannot wait for the seasons to change so that he can catch some fish ☺ In the meantime he is wishing for snow!
He is a good helper. Andy mowed the lawn, and when he saw the blower he started to blow the leaves. He saw me do the laundry and took the iron board downstairs and ironed his shirts while watching soccer. When I walked into the room, he got the hammer and a long nail from the garage and hammered the nail into the wall by the kitchen so he’d have space to hang his clothes he’d ironed ☺
We heard that many people in Thailand earn 300 Baht a month. Our son did jobs for neighbors and saved 1200 Baht over the last years. It is about 34 dollars...incredible that he chose to save it.
He is a sharp kid. He told Andy one morning that he had a dream that we got him a laptop, and then, as the conversation continued, he explained that he wanted to buy it himself. He will work to earn the money, he said.
(All this conversation was done through the google translation app!) His English is improving and we are encouraging him to keep his Thai, and we got some Thai books for him.
His heart is so precious! He is very excited to celebrate Christmas in America with his parents.
Please keep us in prayer as we embark on our journey.
We chose this boy, and it is a reminder to us how the Father chose each one of us. (Romans 8:15)