Nearly 28 years ago on this day, I received a call that changed my life; I was about to become a Mom, a mother through adoption of a baby boy from South Korea. It was a surreal feeling. I hung up the phone and could not make a simple decision – should I go out the front door or back door to find my husband to give him the news? My mom and I walked back and forth between the two for several minutes – until the new Dad arrived home from work and walked in the back door.
We prepared for our trip to New York’s JFK airport to meet our son. I had the feeling of walking around in a dream. I remember being excited and scared – I could not imagine what it would be like, what it would feel like to really be a Mom. It all happened so fast! I packed and repacked the diaper bag, filled with clothing in different sizes (although we were instructed to not change our baby’s clothes by the agency – so that he would have something familiar close to him), bottles, formula, several different sizes of diapers (we had no idea how big he would be), bibs, wipes, cameras, tissue, and anything else I could think we might need for the 3-4 hours between his arrival and our flight home. As I remember, I notice tears in my eyes – scary, joyous, absolutely incredible.
Alexander James was one of nearly 20 babies who arrived from Seoul, S. Korea on September 29, 1987. At that time, we were able to watch the arrival of people from international flights through a window, looking down at the customs area below. There were many strollers, double strollers, and babes in arms as we watched with more than a dozen other adoptive families and tried to pick out our 4 month old baby, matching little faces 20 feet below with a small photo that was taken two months before he traveled. I do believe we were all a little stunned.
Finally, the elevator doors opened and escorts and babies poured out. I heard our name called, and the escort said, Mr. and Mrs. Maynard, this is your son. Oh my. We just stood and stared. I can touch that feeling of awe, still. The escort nudged us, “You can pick him up!” as I am sure it looked as if we would stand there staring all day long if he didn’t say something. I picked up my baby, my son, and he filled my heart. Totally and completely, I fell in love.
The escort walked away. We inspected our sweet baby – fingers and toes and a very dirty diaper. In fact, all his clothes were soaked and stinky, and although we were trying to follow the agency directions, this little guy needed a complete change. His Daddy picked him up and Alex promptly vomited all over him. Our diaper bag did not include a change of clothes for the new parents! Once everyone was cleaned up and baby was swaddled, we cooed and kissed and loved him up. I got him settled into my front pack baby-carrier and he snuggled in as if he was made to be there on my chest. I held him and repeated, “I’m your Mommy” over and over, hoping I would believe it, and that he would, too. It did not take long for either of us to know it was true. He was beautiful, perfect, a wonder.
Alex was looking for a good place to land and he found home in my heart. He was – and still is – a soul who loves connection. He loved snuggling, curled up my chest or tucked into the curve of my belly as we “spooned”. I carried him in the front pack until he outgrew it and then carried him in a backpack until his sister arrived nearly 3 years later. I called him my “Velcro Baby”.
Our adoption journey was a relative breeze. Today, adopting a child from any country including the United States takes on average a year and a half to three years. We submitted the agency application on May 29, 1987, completed the home study by the end of July and were “matched” with Alex on August 18, 1987. The entire process took four months – less time than the “old fashioned way” of becoming a parent.
Alex was a sensitive, delightful, intuitive child with happy, dancing feet. He is a compassionate, considerate man with a deep and contagious belly laugh. There have been many challenges throughout the 28 years, as there are in any human life. He has dealt with numerous medical issues that impact his life in significant ways. His path is not an easy one but it is his and he is walking it. My heart is filled with pride and joy when I see his face, when he wraps me in his big bear hug. We love and support him through his journey, this amazing life; we are his forever family.