We have been keeping a secret.
For months now, Travis and I have been waiting, worrying, praying, losing sleep, biding time, crying, analyzing, dreaming about a boy. OUR BOY!
Introducing Baby Hubbard! Better known right now as "Jae-Min" (pronounced Jay Men), which is his given Korean birth name.
Jae-Min was born on Feb. 8 in South Korea. He is 11 months old! He has three teeth, a sweet, slobbery smile and eyes so beautiful, you get lost in a summer haze just starring at them.
Travis and I were introduced to Jae-Min in a "referral packet" given to us by our adoption agency on Oct. 20, 2011. It is hard to describe the range of emotions you go through when you are sitting in a classroom with 14 children, and your phone dings with an email alert that reads: "Child packet: Materials, pictures and more. It's a Boy!"
Immediately, my heart started beating so fast, and my legs and arms went numb! I clicked on the email, and waited as about 15 pages of info uploaded. Then, without expecting it, the first picture I ever saw of my boy popped up right in front of my eyes.
A tiny, little Korean bundle of joy squinting at the camera as his newborn photo was taken. Yellow from some jaundice and swollen from a long, difficult birth, but as wonderful as the day is long. Little crescent eyes and pouty lips adjusting to his new world.
I called Travis, and we talked so fast I don't even remember what we said! That last 4 hours at work moved as slow as molasses. Once home, Travis and I poured through all of his information. We learned about his young parents who gave him up for a better life. We learned about the area he was born in. We were given all of his known medical information to analyze. And, we were asked by the agency to have his information analyzed by an International Adoption Specialist and a pediatrician.
Jae-Min was carried by his birth mother to a full-term pregnancy. She was 17 when she gave birth to him. Her pregnancy was healthy from what we could tell, and she did seek medical attention. Jae-Min was nearly 8 pounds when he was born!
We have taken the last three+ months to study his file, learn about his personality and foster family. We have been lucky enough to receive a video of him!!! Can I tell you we have watched it AT LEAST 500 times!!!
We have waited to announce his entrance into our hearts because we wanted to have all of his information looked at and checked out by all appropriate parties as recommended by our adoption agency first.
And we are happy, so HAPPY, to report that he appears to be a very healthy, smart and PRECIOUS baby boy! He began walking at 10 months!! He has a great disposition...always laughing and making eye contact. He is a tiny guy...25% for height :) PERFECT!
This secret has been the hardest thing to keep!!! SO HARD! And, the last few months have been very trying emotionally for us as well. Our boy is halfway across the Earth. He is meeting so many "firsts" with another family. He is being put to sleep in someone else's arms. His favorite toy was given to him by someone we may never meet. The touch that is comforting him right now, isn't his parents'. At times, this adoption has made me feel like I am unraveling. In the beginning, my rope was tightly wound. It was strong and sturdy with the fierce drive to bring a baby into our lives.
We have been pushed to our patience limit and back. When we first entered with our agency, Holt, we were told once we got a referral, we'd only have to wait 4 months to bring them home. So, that would have put our baby at about 10 months old. But, over the last few months, the Korean government has made several unfair and frustrating changes in their adoption system. The current wait time to bring a child home from referral is 8 to 12 months. So, for us, that puts Jae at around 18 to 22 months old on homecoming. And, we will be required to finalize his adoption in Korea. We have had to pray for patience and strength daily. Can you imagine waiting nearly 2 years from start to finish for your sweet babe? What I know is that Travis and I share a love so strong for each other, that we will make it through this. And, in the end, we will be much more patient, kinder and better people for it. I can already see such an amazing change in myself. No one is entitled to anything. And, life will hand you lemons. :)
As we entered the adoption process, we realized how green and unaware we really were. Adoption IS NOT for the faint of heart. It IS NOT for those folks who can't stand change. It IS NOT for those who get stressed over the tiny upsets in their day.
So, as we continued on our process (which began in Sept. 2010), my rope felt a little loose in places. We waited 6 months just to be accepted into an agency that would allow diabetics to adopt. Then, it took another 8 months to get our referral of Jae. And, of course 3 months to accept it. And, now guess what?
We have about another 10-12 months before we can travel to Korea to bring OUR baby home. And, who knows, things can always change for the better or worse as far as wait times.
Tom Petty was dead on when he said, "the Waiting is the hardest part."
My rope is worn and tattered right now, but it is also as strong as ever. Infact, it just may be rebuilding itself. When I look in my baby's eyes, I feel a sense of wonder and joy of new possibilities. I feel the best parts of me light up and electrify. And, I sense the tiny fibers of a new love rope begin to develop and grow. And, as they grow, they get thicker and stronger. SO STRONG that these fibers can stretch miles upon miles ... oceans upon oceans ... mountains ... countries ... cities ... cultures ... families ... and most importantly, hearts. Baby Jae-Min has the other end of our rope. It keeps growing, as does he, each day.
Travis and I are so in love with this little guy. :) We look at him and giggle. We laugh at his balding baby hair. We run our fingers over the creases on his eyes and the curve of his lips as we touch his pictures. We sometimes even talk to him. Throw our words up into the heavens with the hope some angel watching over both us and Jae-Min will whisper that love into his ears.
This week we are sending him a care package for his 1st Birthday, which we sadly will miss, too. We have a photo album full of pictures of Travis and I. That's it! Just good old Mom and Dad. :)-
We also bought him a green elephant taggie animal. We are also sending some specials gifts from both sets of grandparents, Uncle Todd and Aunt Danielle and Uncle Adam and Aunt Lindsay.
Goodness, this child is already adored and loved more than he could ever imagine. But, one day he will FEEL it. He will be given the best life possible.
I worried at the very beginning of our journey one major thing: Would we be able to love a child that didn't come from our DNA the same way we would have loved one that we created?
Well, yes. Absolutely, incredibly, with all of our hearts, YES.