He Matters, She Matters
By Joanne Ferguson
The moment I saw his face with his jet black hair sticking up like a little mohawk I was instantly in love. We received an email with the subject line, “It’s a boy!” with his picture and I was so excited I could literally feel my heart explode with a kind love I had never before experienced. He had Mongolian spots on his shoulder and bottom which they explained were birthmarks that would go away as he grew and not to be concerned - we had a boy and that is all I cared about - the moment I saw that email referral William was instantly our son.
It had been 7 years of trying everything we could to get pregnant. It had been our entire marriage and I was done, frankly, just plain exhausted. I can only describe that whole process as a really long roller coaster ride I wanted off of. When it had become obvious we couldn’t conceive we explored ways the doctors could assist us, we then tried to adopt domestically and again back on the roller coaster, they lost our file, we were told we weren’t “experienced” enough to be parents, a birth mother choice another couple they related better with and the ride continued. What?! We just wanted to be a family. We had lots of love and resources to give and there were children that just wanted to be loved. I couldn’t understand what the problem was or why this was so complicated. I just felt sad.
I remember one adoption event in Toronto that felt like a science fair of children. There were booths with images of children, their names, birthdays and interests written underneath. My heart broke as I watched these videos of children wanting parents and I wanting a child. Just write the names of the children you have a connection with and we will go from there. I was thinking could I take them all home. To this day I still remember many of their faces and names and pray they have found loving homes, each and everyone of them matter. Our search continued and brought us to an open adoption process however another couple were chosen. Then we found out about a pregnant teen in Ontario that wanted to place her child for adoption. Finally this would be our child. Everything was set for us to become the parents of this little one within the week but then after giving birth the mother decided to keep her baby. I was happy for her and this child - proud of her courage to embark on the journey of parenthood but again my heart broke, I sent them love and do still wonder how this little one has grown. Was it simply not God’s will for us to have a child? I felt the brokenheartedness of Hannah when she wept before the Lord.
This time I was off the rollercoaster said to my husband, “that’s it, we’re going international!” Cue the end of anguish and the beginning of tears of joy. Before we knew it, we got that email referral with William’s face and were on our way to Seoul, Korea. That was longest plane ride I’ve ever experienced - not just because of the distance but because of the anticipation of meeting our son for the first time. We arrived and went straight to his foster Mom’s home to pick him up. The agency likes you to visit around Korea before receiving your child but we couldn’t wait, once I met him I wasn't going to go sightseeing without him. I’ll never forget that moment as we were in the car headed to get his final check up and william was sitting on his foster Mom’s lap but his little hand tightly holding my finger.
I remember stepping out of the elevator with our son and thinking, okay now what? It was crazy to think this was finally happening we had a son. That night William was crying and had colic for many hours that night. As new parents we were frantically Googling what to do and Kevin went to Walmart (yes, Walmart in Korea too!) to pick up some gripe water to help. The whole night seemed like a crazy whirlwind but then something switched. The next night he slept perfectly with his arms thrown back (just like Kevin) and sleeping peacefully.
The next morning I headed down with William in my arms to call my parents and stepped into the elevator, I noticed the 4 pregnant girls in the elevator. It was surreal to think that each of these girls was just like William’s Mom. I wondered what they were thinking and I am sure they were wondering what I was thinking. My heart was overwhelmed with gratitude for the choice they were making and the choice William’s birth Mom made.
We spent the next couple of days walking around Seoul with our son. It was obvious to everyone around us that we had just adopted him and everyone was so kind. Many would stop and show us special ways to massage his arms and teach us Korean style cooing noises that would be familiar to him.
William was my gift, he was perfectly timed, my “pure joy” baby. His life matters.
Every birthday he celebrates is bittersweet for me. I am thankful for my son’s life and forever grateful to his mother who boldly chose life but I still think of her and how she sacrificed the pleasure of knowing William so that he could thrive. William still has lots of questions about where he comes from. We answer them. He has 3 Moms - his birth Mum who loved him enough to give him up, his foster Mom who stepped in to love him during transition and me, his forever Mom who loves him everyday as her own.
Fast forward 6 months and I’m pregnant... Yes, God has a sense of humour! Sydney came
into our lives the way one usually expects to start a family. I don’t know if my body just needed to let go or if the purpose of this whole process was for me to evolve and prepare in some way but I was grateful and she was my “miracle” baby. Her life matters. She’s added a joy and dynamic to our family that is irreplaceable.
William and Sydney are both equally my children. They may have been brought to us in different ways but they are both ours. I’ve actually been asked, Do you feel differently about one than the other? The truth is no, I don’t. Sometimes I even forget that he looks different because I don’t see his race, I only see my son. William used to ask, Why do my eyes look different or Sydney would be asked by kids at school, Is that really your brother? YEAH that’s my brother! Sydney is always quick to defend the fact that William is obviously her brother. We still participate regularly in Korean culture, which helps William connect to his culture of origin and has introduced us to a whole new world of experiences. It’s fascinating to see how he treasures the little things that tie him to Korean culture and the friends he’s made along the way.
In some ways I think we were destined to adopt. Roll back to when I was 19, sitting on a couch in Vancouver with my older sister who suddenly decided to tell me she had a child. WHAT?! She had been 16 at the time and I was only 6 so I had no real memory of this event. My sister had gotten pregnant and due to a number of situations it was not possible for my sister or parents to raise her so she was born and placed for adoption. From the moment I found out about this niece of mine I loved her and I couldn’t let go of her in my mind. I constantly thought about her and wondered what she was doing. Her life matters.
Ten years later we got to meet her, Meredith, my sister’s first child. She looked so much like my sister it was startling. We immediately connected since, afterall, we were only 6 years apart and happened to work in the same industry. Life had turned out well for her. Her adoptive parents were wonderful and loved her. Meredith climbs mountains and has a joy and inspiration that spills over into the lives of others. Her life matters. It has been such a gift to know Meredith and walk through many aspects of life since we first met. I was present through the death of her adoptive Mom, I’ve rejoiced with her at her wedding and had the great pleasure to be called her Aunt.
It is so incredible to experience adoption from all sides. I know Meredith’s parents are so grateful to my sister for placing Meredith into their arms and for the opportunity to have her in their life. It is the same gratitude I feel toward William’s mother everyday. I believe both my sister and William’s Mom loved their children in the greatest most sacrificial way possible. They chose life and released them to someone who could care for them. The timing may not always be right for a birth Mom but it IS the right timing for this little tiny human to be born.
If there was one message I could tell all the women in unplanned pregnancies it would be that the way someone comes into the world doesn’t matter. To the woman who places her child for adoption - no one is asking you to forget them. I can’t imagine the courage and strength it takes to let go but it doesn’t have to be forever and adoption is truly a way to give them the best shot at life. Having adopted and given birth I can honestly say that the 9 months it takes to sacrifice and bring a child into the world is always worth it. That person matters.
William is my son. He is a brother and some day he will be a husband and father. Every day he impacts the lives of those around him. He is hilarious and tells me he wants to have 50 kids some day and a bus to drive them around in! He is kind and makes everyone around him laugh. I often think about all people who wouldn’t be with us if it weren’t for Moms who choose life despite their circumstances or the inconvenience. We are so much more than our bodies - being pregnant is a gift you give to someone else - you nurture and take care of them.
A family is a family no matter how it comes together. Our lives are richer for knowing William and Meredith. I am blessed to know their stories and be able to talk to my children about the value of every human life. Unplanned pregnancies happen but there is a good choice to be made in that moment. We don’t know what our life will look like, and we can’t really plan for it but I want my kids to know that if they are ever part of an unplanned pregnancy they can come to me and adoption is on the table. I am here if anyone ever wants to talk, I will listen and not judge. I love life. My Mom told me I was an “oops” but let me tell you I am a pretty good “oops!”