The questions we most frequently get when people hear we are adopting are, “How did you find her? What inspired you to do this?” To answer that question I have to go back 4 years.
Four years ago I was an exhausted mother of 6, the youngest of which was 6 weeks old. I felt safe and secure in my belief that Rob and I were done having children. After all, 6 kids is a lot of kids. However, my world was rocked when I distinctly felt another child, I knew beyond anything there was another child for our family. Rob later confirmed this impression with an experience of his own. In my postpartum haze this was difficult news to swallow. I was barely equipped to handle 6 kids, how on earth would I manage 7? Additionally, from a strictly obstetric perspective, I was getting old. This was an emotional time for me, full of much worry and anxiety. Oh how I agonized over how I would cope with this revelation. How God must have smiled on me, I can hear him asking “Why are you worried, have I ever left you alone before?”
I’m honestly not even sure when Rob and I came to the realization that we were actually done bearing children, but not done bringing them into our family. Somewhere along the path of conversation we realized we would find our child not through birth, but through adoption.
Baird Kids 2012
We felt strongly that Vietnam was where we would find out little one. This was also a logical choice for us since Rob had served a 2 year mission in Cambodia working with the Vietnamese people and was still semi-fluent in the Vietnamese language. However, at the time Vietnam was still working to become compliant with the Hague Convention and adoptions were not yet taking place between the United States and Vietnam. So we waited, we learned what we could about adoption, our children grew up a little and my heart started to relax, if only a little. We regularly checked the State Department’s webpage to see if there were updates on Vietnam’s progress and were excited with each new development.
In September of 2014 Rob and I were in Park City celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. I made a quick check of the State Department’s webpage and found ADOPTIONS WERE FINALLY OPEN between the United States and Vietnam. We did not know at the time, but our little one was a newborn baby already living in the orphanage.
At that point we chose an adoption agency, Dillon International, and applied to adopt. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much paperwork in my whole life! It was slow going at first because while we were navigating the foreign waters of adoption and we were also building a house, which it turns, out is a full time job in and of itself. We moved into our new home in March of 2015 and in May of 2015 I began our paperwork in earnest.
By September of 2015 we were far enough along in our process that Dillon began sending us profiles of children who fit the age and special needs parameters we had agreed to. I remember my shock at seeing the first referral waiting in my email, I had not expected this yet! At that moment Rob was on a rather intense business phone call and I buzzed around him like an annoying fly waiting for him to hang up. He HAD to hear this!
Our first referral was of a beautiful 12 month old named Minh. I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that Vietnam has a very specific adoption program. Healthy infants are being adopted in-country, and I truly believe it is better for children to stay in their birth country, provided there are families willing to take them.That said, the children available to foreigners either have special needs, are part of sibling groups, or fall in the category of being an older child– aged 5 and up. Minh was born without arms. She was beautiful and extraordinarily talented. We saw videos of her playing with toys with her feet and using a pen to scribble on paper, she was absolutely delightful. As much as we wanted to agree to adopt Minh, we didn’t feel right about it. As we thought and prayed about this referral we knew she was not the right child for our family. It was heartbreaking to deny Minh and I grieved for her in spite of my inner assurance that this was the right thing to do. The good news is, as I type this, Minh is on an airplane with her adoptive parents coming to her new home in Kentucky! Thanks to the miracle of the internet I have come into contact with her adoptive parents and am so thrilled to see her adopted by a family who so obviously adore her.
Only two days after Minh’s referral we were shocked to receive a second referral. This was a 15 month old named Mai. Again, she was beautiful, but again we didn’t feel right about it. Once again, I have come into contact with Mai’s adoptive parents, wonderful people also living in Kentucky. They are anxiously awaiting their match letter and I pray they receive it soon! They plan to name her Gracie which I think fits her perfectly.
A month later in October, as Rob and I were on an anniversary trip in Hawaii, we were presented with a third referral. I told Rob I didn’t want to see it. It was too hard to look at these beautiful children who need homes and to keep feeling it wasn’t right. Rob felt it was important to at least look, he felt it would give us wisdom and experience for when the right referral came along, so I consented. This time the referral was of a 2 year old little boy named Tuong. At 2 years old he was still unable to sit, stand, or speak, but oh he was darling! Again, as we thought and prayed on the matter we still didn’t feel right about adopting Tuong. Unfortunately I do not know what has happened to him. I sincerely hope he has adoptive parents working to bring him home.
Our golden day finally came November 4, 2015, just two days before Rob was headed to Vietnam on a humanitarian trip. I opened my email and there she was, 14 month old Tien Kim. I was instantly in love. I called Rob and together we looked at her pictures, medical records, and all other information provided to us. Rob was right, having looked over and denied three previous referrals, this was SO different. We decided to accept the referral and move forward in the process of adopting Tien Kim, who we are planning to call Kim.
Two days later, Rob left for Vietnam, but the powers that be would not allow him to visit Kim, which was truly disappointing. However, while on his trip Rob was able to have Kim’s medical records reviewed by a pediatrician who is accustomed to treating children in orphanages. He felt her medical issues would likely be minimal.
Now that we had Kim in our hearts, our adoption efforts took on a whole new fervor. More paperwork, social worker visits, finger prints, forms filed with the U.S. government, more finger prints, and finally, approvals given. In spite of my best efforts our dossier did not make it to Vietnam until June of this year. There are so many moving parts in adoption, so many people involved, and most of the time, so little control. At this point we settled in for the long haul. We hoped to travel to get Kim before the end of the year, but really had no idea if that was a realistic expectation. By June I had established a good network of other Vietnam adoptive families and knew it was taking anywhere from 2 months to 11 months for Vietnam to finish their part and issue the ever illusive, most coveted, Match Letter. The Match Letter is what makes things official, it means things will start moving, it means the Vietnamese government agrees the child will be yours, in short, the Match Letter is the point at which adoptive parents can momentarily breathe a sigh of relief.
August 8, 2016 was Timothy’s 4th birthday and we were on a road trip to the east coast. We had just stopped for a birthday lunch followed by picking up supplies at Walmart in West Virginia. We were about to get back on the road when I checked my email. I screamed. There it was, OUR MATCH LETTER! Suddenly the van was alive with the sounds of celebration. Our match letter had come after only 6 weeks, it had come a month earlier than the earliest we had expected it.
Which brings us to today. I have filed more forms, and now we’re waiting for Vietnam to issue our Article 5. This means everything is in order and we will shortly thereafter be invited for our Giving and Receiving Ceremony, or G&R. The G&R is where Kim will become legally ours. I expect our Article 5 any day now and then our G&R should be about a month after that. Right now we are mentally prepped to head for Vietnam in mid to late October. I have so many feelings and so many emotions, but mostly gratitude. Gratitude that we are finally to this point, that we feel prepared, and that Kim will soon be ours.