Thanks for visiting again…still playing catch-up…
Last summer, after we’d learned about Ryan through our agency, but before we’d made any commitments, our story took an incredible turn.
When parents find children who they think might be good fits for their families, they typically engage in a great deal of back & forth communication with their agency. Emails bounce here and there and profiles, photos and medical reports are delivered to the parents so that they (we) can have as much information as possible with which to make decisions.
It’s sometimes a stressful period as every effort is made to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible. And so it went for us…
We first saw Ryan’s file on Friday July 25 (2014) on our agency’s website, and we were immediately drawn to his happy smile and his mini profile that the foster family had written on his behalf. Additionally, we were interested in his particular special needs as we had already listed vision issues on our list of needs. Ryan has congenital cataracts in both eyes, and one crossed eye, as well. He does not have very good vision, but he’s been able to adapt with the help of his caretakers and friends.
We requested his records and through our correspondence during that same day with our agency, we learned that Ryan had participated in a 30-day host program – here in the US. In fact, as we actively considered his profile information, we found out he was still participating in the program – and was in the last days of his month-long visit! How fortunate!
Our agency was able to connect us with his host family, so that we would have a chance to discuss his experiences and learn as much as we could about him. His host family could not have been more generous and considerate. After a few quick and (late) hours and a handful of emails back and forth, we made arrangements to call the family to speak with them.
Time Check: Friday evening, August 1st, approximately 9:45 PM.
We couldn’t dial fast enough! Once we introduced ourselves and learned about Ryan’s Host Family, we had a very heartfelt discussion about him and his time with them. His host family was (and is) very special indeed. They chose to participate in the Host program, because of their own wonderful family experiences with international adoption – and they felt that had more love to share. We nervously paced our way through our list of questions, and the host mother answered every one in great detail. They graciously shared all of their experiences that they had with Ryan and helped us to fill in our picture of him – who he was, what he liked (& didn’t like)…everything we could think to ask (or didn’t think to ask!). As it turns out, this conversation was our tipping point.
We knew that Ryan was near the end of his Host Program stay, and before hanging up the phone, we learned that he was scheduled to depart for China to return to his CWI on Sunday (August 3) – which was just a day and a half later. Ryan was already preparing for his trip, and the family was preparing for his departure so emotions were already running high. We also learned that he was in upstate NY. And that his itinerary would require a long car ride to Washington DC, where he would catch his flight. A flight that, oddly enough, would be making a stop-over in Philadelphia. His Host Mother, who would be making the trip with Ryan to Washington DC, to deliver him to his travel chaperones, mentioned that it might be possible – if we could arrange it – to actually MEET Ryan during the stop-over, between flights, at Philadelphia airport.
We thought carefully about the idea, but it seemed risky to us on a couple of fronts. First, flights get delayed sometimes (yes, even in Philadelphia – hard to believe!) and so there was a possibility that our window of opportunity would not even be open long enough for us to connect with him. Second, and more importantly, we certainly didn’t want to add to the confusion and stress that Ryan would be under during his flight change-over. We imagined what might be going through his mind, and how he would likely be very confused about what would be happening. The language barrier, his age, and the unfamiliar surroundings at the airport would make it extremely difficult to explain in a meaningful way who we were and why he was meeting us.
So…living life on the spur moment (as we sometimes do…), and still knowing that stress levels would be elevated, we cautiously offered a modest proposal: Perhaps, if his Host Family would agree, we could drive our family to upstate NY to meet Ryan and to meet their family. (While we were on the phone, I was furiously bouncing through Google Maps, finding that indeed our location was only 160 miles and a relatively (for us) a “short” 3 hours away. A very do-able trip for us on a Saturday in the Summer.
We were confident that the host family had already made plans for Ryan’s activities on Saturday – most likely something low-key, so he could ease into his departure plan on Sunday. An unscripted short-cycle visit by our family would certainly require plans to be changed, and would surely result in an escalation of the tension. But we could not pass up the one chance (as crazy as it sounded) to actually meet our potential new son and brother in real life. To have the opportunity (for even just ONE HOUR) to see him, interact with him, watch him interact with his host family and interact with Kyle, Dylan and Ashley was something we needed to ask for. In our hearts, we knew that this would be the most important 60 minutes of this whole story. We needed to know if he would be the one for us.
So we asked…
After we made our proposal, the phone line went a bit quiet. We were hopeful that the special bond that our two families shared would be strong enough to overcome the potential downsides of visiting. We were completely overjoyed and amazed that the Host Family would allow us this visit. They graciously accepted our offer, and we assured them that we would only impose on them for a very short time the next afternoon.
Time Check: Friday evening, August 1st, approximately 10:30 PM.
As we learned later, Ryan’s Host Family is one of the most loving, caring, generous and considerate families we’ve ever had the good fortune to know. Over the 30 days that they cared for Ryan, they fell in love with him. There are not words to express the gratitude that we have for all of them…you know who you are. Thank you again for the chance to let us fall in love with him, too.
Part 2 – coming soon…