My husband Tim and I sit on the couch surrounded by a dozen adopted children from Korea, India, Guatemala and America — all brothers and sisters, adopted by a couple who live in California. The kids all have some type of visible disability. One Korean boy runs into the house, pops his prosthetic legs off at the knees and jumps onto a chair to stare at us.
Our Korean social worker, Margaret has asked to meet here to “introduce” us to our future son. Apparently, she doesn’t consider that being surrounded by this family, with so many kids, might feel a bit overwhelming to a couple with no parenting experience, and in fact, it does.
Margaret hands us a picture. “This is the child God wanted you to have.”
I smile at her words knowing they are meant to be profound, but feeling instead that they are a bit dramatic.
Her dark, expressive eyes gaze into mine. I’m not sure how old Margaret is, maybe in her seventies or eighties, but I see something warm in their depths when she repeats, “It’s true. You have to believe that.”
“Okay,” I say, not sure what I believe yet.
I look at the picture of a baby who looks like many other newborns. His eyes are kind of closed. His skin a soft pink. A sprinkling of dark hair on his head. On the bottom is a number that I’m assuming identifies him to the adoption agency. It begins with the letter K — perhaps to classify his Korean nationality, I don’t know. I wish the number wasn’t there for me to see.
My husband smiles. He’s so excited. The couple, whose crowded house we’ve invaded, look at the picture and say he’s beautiful. It gets passed to the kids who are all excited for us, and maybe for the baby. They know what it feels like to be the baby in the picture.
I see that this unconventional family love each other and appear to belong together. A twelve-year-old Korean boy pulls out a picture album of when he was first adopted.
“This is the picture of me when my parents picked me up in San Francisco.” In the picture, his parents hold him, wide smiles indicating the joy they felt on this special day.
“And this,” he continues, “was my first birthday party. I didn’t put the frosting on my face, my dad did that.” He gives me a crooked…