As a photographer and expecting adoptive parent I was thrilled to photograph my first Red Thread Session! There is something so precious about connecting with other adoptive families that makes the wait for our little guy a little easier. The Shepherd family has an amazing adoption journey. They were gracious enough to share it with me and I'm so blessed to share their words with you here. I encourage you to read their story. It is beautiful!
Shepherd Adoption Journey:
Casey and I knew we wanted to build our family through adoption even before we were married. I come from a family with 11 total children, 8 are adopted (2 domestic, 2 Guatemala, 2 Vietnam, 1 Korea, 1 Romania). I'm #6 and bio if you are wondering. Adoption is the only way I know family and God planted the seed of adoption in my heart at birth.
So, we knew we would adopt one day but just didn't know when. We were also fairly certain that we would do international adoption as well. After having our 3 bio children (and 3 miscarriages mixed in), I felt the strong calling (daily!) to start the adoption process. In September 2011, we sent in our application to adopt from South Korea. Things moved rather quickly and by the middle of December 2011, our homestudy was complete and we were waiting on a referral. We were told it would be a 3-6 month wait. 1 month later we got that phone call! We reviewed our son's file and instantly knew he was ours. 2 things caught my attention: his name and birthdate. His name, KeonWoo, means heaven help. His birthdate, 4/21/11, ironically was about the same time I would have delivered a child that I had miscarried (at 15 weeks) in 2010. We always we knew that the child we were matched with was the one God had planned for our family. We officially accepted his referral on 1/20/12. (God thing: when we accepted and the money was due, I had just received an unexpected bonus for almost the exact amount needed) Then the waiting began.
It seemed like every time the waiting became virtually unbearable I would then receive an update/pics or phone call from our adoption agency. God gave me hope with each of these. God thing #2 came on 5/20/13 when his EP was submitted to the Ministry. But, on 5/20/13 I was in my clinic in Moore, OK sheltering in a very old building from the F5 tornado. We missed a direct hit by 1/2 mile. A large piece of debris on the door handle of my car was full of Bible verses (hmmm...God was with me in the midst of a storm). And, a page from a Korean book was on the parking line next to my car. I kept both!
EP was approved and submitted to court late June and things were looking up. 3 weeks later, on my husband's birthday (God thing), I received the wonderful news of a court date! Happy Birthday, Casey!
Our first trip was at the end of August and we took Naia (our oldest daughter) and my sister Becca who is adopted from Korea. Her first trip back to Korea. I kept asking her what was the date of her Gotcha Day b/c I remember she came home in August (I was 5). She finally found it and it was the exact SAME day we were flying to Korea. Awesome! The trip was fun, and the meetings with my son were amazing. We went to court and then received prelim approval the day before flying home. Another God thing to note is that August was one of those months when I got 3 pay checks and therefore we didn't have to dip into savings to pay for the trip.
I honestly don't know how I functioned over the next 3 weeks as I overcame jetlag, felt very emotional having to come home without Liam, and had the stress of waiting for final approval. That FINAL APPROVAL phone call came right before lunch on 9/24/13 as I was finishing up my morning patients. My nurse said I had a phone call from the adoption agency and I knew what it was about. My patient told me to take the call. I told her that I wouldn't be able to concentrate on her due to being overcome with joy if I didn't finish her appointment first. My agency delivered the wonderful news and 2 days later I was on a plane to Seoul. We took custody on 9/30/13 and it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The grieving is hard to watch and it felt like I was kidnapping my own child. We flew home on 10/4/13. Happy days soon followed and we are all so blessed to have him home.
Final God thing (so far) is that when I took FMLA I asked my office manager how much time I had accrued in my leave bank. She gave me the number of hours and I quickly did the math. It came out to exactly 12 weeks pay. Wow, again! We were totally prepared to dip into savings and had saved just for this time. I can say I grew in my faith through this whole process and God continually reminded me that He is in control. The verse I meditated on many times in this process was "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer" Romans 12:12.