I think the fun thing about sitting down to write a long story is the part where you really don't know how you're going to go about it from the beginning. Let's see....We have to back up a bit..
Taevy came home in March 2001. That summer I began working for a VERY small VERY new adoption agency (not yet licensed, so technically a non-profit facilitator). I had been praying for many months for the Lord to open up a door for me to begin working in adoption. One door opened, but it wasn't from the Lord, so as hard as it was, I didn't take the job. The next week the "right" door opened and I began working for A World of Hope, Inc. We had one program at the time (Cambodia). My job was to help established new programs, work with all families (no matter what country), come up with procedural administrative documents, as well as family education materials. Yeah...it was a LOT of job for $500 a month! LOL! But I loved the work and was ready to pay my dues.
Before long I had helped to established additional programs in Vietnam, Haiti, and Bulgaria. The most popular program was Vietnam and I thought we had made it BIGTIME when I was working with 10 families! [This makes me laugh when I know at any given time AAI has over 300 families in process for Ethiopia and even our little Ghana program has around 20 families in process.]
I made contact with a Vietnam facilitator that seemed great. I checked her references (both previous families and previous adoption agencies) who all gave glowing reports. We decided to work with her for 3 cases, to see if it was a good match between she and A World of Hope. Before long we started to receive photos of waiting children and I had the joy of referring them to families.
One day in January 2002, among the waiting child photos, was the photo of a beautiful baby boy. His face just looked so round and perfect. What an angel. I had no family for him (as odd as that sounds). I had an immediate burden for this adorable 2 month old boy. I prayed and prayed for him....asking the Lord to help me find his family. I put his picture on my desktop and stared at him hundreds of times every day.
It got to the point that I was crying about this baby not having a family. The burden was THAT great. I decided I was being ridiculous and I took his photo off of my desktop and told myself I was NOT going to look at him anymore. But that just made me more miserable.
One night I was on the phone with my boss/friend Julie telling her how this baby boy had gotten under my skin. I started crying about him on the phone. Julie said, "Anita! Have you considered that maybe this child is your son?" Well...no I really truly hadn't! I was working two full time jobs (music teacher with 600 students, and adoption worker); Taevy was 16 months old, home 10 months; Eric and I didn't have a penny to adopt again; and OUR plans were to adopt a sibling for Taevy (from Cambodia) in 3-5 years. I tried to put Julie's suggestion out of my mind, but the seed had been planted.
THE VERY NEXT DAY, we got the very tough news that Eric's kidneys were beginning to fail. They said we had 3-5 years before he would need a kidney transplant. This sent us into a bit of a frenzy because 3-5 years was exactly when we had planned to adopt again. What was God doing here? It didn't take long to figure out.
To this point I hadn't said anything to Eric about the baby boy I had such a burden for. But when we got the news about his kidney I knew IMMEDIATELY that this child was, in fact, to be our son! I didn't know how it was going to work out, but I did know that we were not meant to only have one child, and in 3-5 years nobody would let us adopt because of Eric's health (little did we know, eh?!). I showed Nguyen Duc Tuan to Eric and he was putty within a few minutes. That is completely unlike my husband, so once again I knew it was meant to be.
We said "yes" to little Tuan on January 29, 2002. The next two months are so jumbled in my memory that they are hard to describe. All of the money fell into place within 2 weeks! Our paperwork was complete and in Vietnam by the end of February. Can you say FAST!
On February 22 we received this HILARIOUS picture of Samren. I'm definitely putting it in his senior yearbook some day!
We left for Vietnam on March 16th, 2002. This time no parents came along, but we still didn't have to travel alone! Linda and Charlie Smith (from Stillwater, OK) were also traveling, to receive their daughter Naomi. Both Naomi and Samren were in the same remote orphanage in Hung Yen Vietnam. Both of our families were "trying out" this new facilitator.
This trip was much different than our trip to get Taevy. My head wasn't so much in the "this is going to be perfect" clouds. For one thing, I had just left my 17 month old baby for 3.5 weeks. I never had peace about that but we were told it was better for her. [Didn't know then to listen to my mommy gut--she should have gone.] Also, I was starting to see red flags with the supposedly wonderful facilitator. That had me worried. The thing weighing most heavily on me was I felt like I had to make it a perfect adoption experience for the other two families in my group, since I was their "adoption specialist." I felt like such a poser because I had never been to Vietnam any more than they had!
Nevertheless, we made it to Hanoi, where we would spend the first half of our time in Vietnam. We were 3 hours away from our baby. Our beautiful, healthy, bouncing baby boy!