Friday, February 20, 2015
Making Room for Five
This story was published in the Winter, 2014 issue of DIALOGUE magazine.
When we were first married, my husband, Murray, told me that he would like us to have two biological children and then adopt one with special needs. I had always wanted to have as many children as possible, so I was glad to agree.
Rebecca was born shortly after our third anniversary. That was almost 24 years ago. I have a clear first memory of her arrival a little after five o’clock on a Wednesday evening. As I held the newborn on my chest, a bunch of friends from church came to visit us in the hospital after Bible study.
“She looks just like you,” everybody kept saying to Murray.
“Don’t worry, Kathy,” a friend joked. “They change a lot in the first year.”
Murray worked as an occupational therapist, and I was in graduate school when Rebecca was born. I took a semester off, then went back to school to finish.
A few months before I graduated, Murray suggested that we have our second baby right away, before I started back to work. Sarah was born when Rebecca was sixteen months old.
As I was lying in bed with the newborn Sarah in my arms, the doctor who had delivered both girls sat beside me and said, “Well, Sarah, you look just like your sister—which means you look just like your father.”
Sarah was born in January, and Caleb joined our family in December of that same year. But let’s back up a little. Since college I had been involved with a children’s home mission in Taiwan connected to my church. Before I became pregnant with Sarah, we received a newsletter from the Taiwan mission, mentioning a little boy who happened to be blind. Murray suggested that maybe we could adopt him, and we wrote a letter to the couple who ran the home. As months flew by, we found out I was pregnant. I graduated, we moved closer to Murray’s job, and we forgot all about it.
When Sarah was less than six months old, a letter finally arrived from Taiwan. The couple there said that they had several wishes for the family who would adopt the little boy and, Of all the families who had asked about adopting him, we were the ones who satisfied all those wishes.
I can remember Murray crying as he read the letter to me.
The little boy had a Chinese name, but since he was only two, we had the opportunity to choose an English name for Him. For the next few months, we talked non-stop to Rebecca about her new brother, whom we called Caleb.
When Murray picked up Caleb and brought him home to me, I took him in my arms and said, “Caleb, I’m your mama.” When Rebecca woke from her nap, I asked her, “Rebecca, who is this?”
“Caleb,” she replied. At that moment, our new son was almost three, Rebecca was two, and Sarah was eleven months old.
We were done having children, right?
When the kids were four, five and six, our minister spoke one Sunday morning about how much help we could do if a bunch of families in our church each adopted a child who needed a home. Murray took no convincing; I took little.
We contacted the county agency that dealt with adoption, and just for fun, we also contacted the home in Taiwan.
The folks in Taiwan said they had no babies who needed adopting, but there was an older boy, about 12, who had been abandoned.
This adoption took a little longer since Ping-Hwei was older. The workers there wanted him to visit us first before they started adoption proceedings to make sure we, and he, really wanted this.
I remember the first day Ping-Hwei walked into our house to join our family. He went straight to the kitchen, pulled the handle off the faucet on the sink, and said something to us in Chinese. We all had a lot to learn.
I knew we were done now. Four kids was definitely enough.
About six months after Ping-Hwei came to be with us, we received a Christmas card from friends at the home in Taiwan. They mentioned that they had a new baby who was blind and needed a home.
Murray said nothing. I said nothing. A couple weeks later, I said, “You know, maybe we could adopt that baby.” Murray just smiled.
I tell Benjamin that God definitely wanted him to be in our family. By the time we called Taiwan, they’d already started adoption proceedings for the child they’d told us about in the Christmas card. But … there was another baby boy, just three weeks old, also blind.
If we had called them right after we got the card, we might have that other little boy in our family. Instead, that June, almost exactly one year after Ping-Hwei arrived, Benjamin, not quite six months old, joined us.
One of the delights about adoption, according to Murray, is that the husband gets to have morning sickness as well, but I told Murray not to expect any more children as Father’s Day presents.
Many people had questions about how I managed, but Murray completely trusted that, even though I am blind, I could care for the children. For nine years, I was a full-time stay-at-home mom and primary caregiver. I am so grateful for the gift my husband gave me. What an adventure it’s been!