Monday, September 18, 2006

Isaac's Story

We realized that for the other two birthday's we have celebrated since moving here, we told the story of each birth. For Britt's go here. And for Noah's go here. You'll have to wait till November for Paige and December for Hope. :)

Isaac celebrated his first birthday here, in an orphanage. This birthday today, was considerably better! As evidenced by his GIANT entire-face smile.

The story of Isaac is a happy one for us.  (And it needs to be said that it may or may not always feel happy for Isaac.  He lost his first family and we don't underestimate the pain that could bring at certain times in his life.)

We began researching adoption in mid 2001. At that time, Isaac (Ricardo) was about to be born; in a country we could not find on the map, and knew nothing about, almost 3,000 miles away.

By late 2001 we were discouraged with adoption paperwork and rigmarole and decided that maybe we would step back from it for a few months and see what God might do with our hearts and if maybe we should not be adopting at all. It was not long after September 11th and we had just been turned down after applying with an agency in Columbia. We stopped talking adoption by November of 2001. We agreed to leave it on the shelf until the new year.

One Sunday night in February (2002) after three months of avoiding the topic of adopting we decided to look around on the internet for additional adoption information. We spent many hours that night looking through photo listings of orphans all around the world. Without any real explanation I felt my heart being pulled towards the huge brown eyes of the children from Haiti. That very first night we looked there was a photo-listing of a wild-haired, smiley little baby. He had been in the orphanage for a few months.  (We are not so certain anymore that photo-listings are a good way to handle adoption and question the ethics of that, but at the time we were naive to that fact.)

We booked a trip for April to go see the orphanage. We gathered paperwork as we waited for April to come.

On April 17 after a storm forced us to land in the Dominican Republic, we finally arrived after dark in Port au Prince. I remember being very afraid as we left the airport. Since it had grown dark the other adoptive parents were debating on whether or not we should go to the orphanage or just get to the hotel to get to bed.

The decision was made to stop in quickly at the orphanage. We were led upstairs to the room where most of the babies slept. It was about 10pm. The entire room of about 15 babies, were fast asleep ... except for one baby.

One baby was wide awake while all 14+ of his roomates snoozed peacefully. The baby we'd seen on the photo listing. Troy walked over to the crib and stuck his hand in to pat the funny little baby with the HUGE soft afro. The baby squealed and grinned at Troy. He was SO animated. Troy leaned into the crib and picked up baby Ricardo. He ate up the attention. He smiled and touched Troy's face. His personality was so evident even at seven months old. He was silly and loving and filled with joy.

Seven months later in late October of 2002 we finalized the adoption and brought (Ricardo) Isaac home to Minnesota. He was 13 months old. The reasons why his first mom left him there were not known to us at that time. We adopted because we wanted a son. Not to save Isaac, not to be thanked.  We are the lucky ones.  We grieve the fact that poverty in Haiti and other countries means that many children are left in orphanages. We know Isaac's first mother loves him.  (We now have a very close relationship with her and have had to face a lot of difficult facts about the way he came to be relinquished.)

He has been a gift from the very start. Many adoptions end up being hard and filled with pain, especially for kids who are a little older and come out of an institution. We don't know why Isaac was spared from some of the hurts that kids from orphanages often face. He seems to have come out of a sad situation (all orphanages are sad) with nothing but pure joy. He loves to hear the story of the night we came to find him, the only baby awake and acting silly. "Tell it again, tell me it again" he begs.  We know that during his adolescence and adulthood he might really struggle with having been placed for adoption.  We hope that knowing his first mom will help ease that pain, but we will always encourage Isaac to feel and express whatever he need to surrounding his adoption.

His name means "laughter" and he is serious about living up to it. He makes us laugh every single day, without exception. He is one happy, loving little guy.

ISAAC - "Cheerful Faith"
Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy... -Psalm 16:11