“Before, I wanted to say: “I found love!” But now, I want to say: “I found a person. And he belongs to me and I belong to him.”
― C. JoyBell C.
Y’all! We got the revised copy of our adoption decree on Friday so I can share our baby’s name and photo today!
Our caseworker, Meredith, sent a copy of the decree to my email just before 6pm that day. I was home alone at the time, and never have I ever wanted to hug a person so hard in my life! I went out on the front porch and just smiled at the stars. Kevin got home from church about an hour later and it was SO FUN seeing him for the “first time” again. 😀
A couple of our sweet Connect Group families rushed outside their homes to celebrate with us, and then we went out for a late dinner at our favorite Japanese place. As I sat there, with my puffy, cried-out eyes, dunking deep-fried sushi roll slices in yum-yum sauce, I couldn’t get over how ethereal the whole experience felt. I kept asking our friends, “Did that really just happen? Did I really just see his new name? Am I really awake right now?”.
For three and a half years, I had been visualizing that night. The one where I’m sitting at Miyako Japanese Steak & Sushi, celebrating the 72 pages that say we’re officially a family of three. And then all of a sudden- WHOOSH. I’m there. Sitting at a thickly-lacquered pine table, between Kevin and Juju, and across from Mati, Suzanne and Billy. We’re eating edamame, and pouring soy sauce into tiny, footed trays. We were slurping on salty, chicken broth soup and celebrating the official stamps and signatures that deem our boy legally our son.
It was June of 2013 the first time I saw my son’s face. (Side note: it just occurred to me that “June” was my ‘Word of the Year’ in 2013.
I chose it It chose me in December of 2012. Hmm. Very interesting.) I was coming up the stairs when I noticed Kevin sitting at the computer in our bedroom at the end of the hall. Because of how our desk is positioned, I could only see the right side of his face.
Wait. Are those tears? And is he smiling? What on earth is he looking at?
I start to walk faster. “Honey? Are you okay? What’s going on?”.
He doesn’t say a word, he just looks up at me and points to the computer screen in front of him. There, I see this picture:
It was a photo of a child that had just been transferred to the Angel House from the local social services building. His name is Steevenson– spelled like Haitians spell it with three “E”s. After a quick glance up at the menu bar at the top of the screen, I realize Kevin is on Three Angel’s Children’s Relief’s Facebook page. (Three Angels had just accepted our application around that time, so we spent a lot of time scrolling through their past posts and checking their page for updates.)
As we scrolled through the rest of the photos in Steevenson’s online album, I am also moved to tears.
Oh, that baby! So confused and scared. So clearly malnourished. At 18 months, his legs are much too small to support the rest of his weight so he sits frozen atop a steel medical table, his eyeballs the only things that move from photo to precious photo. Oh, that face! So sweet and gorgeous. I was captivated by his kewpie doll features; his button nose and pillowy lips. His big, wide-set eyes…with their ebony corneas. They’re like windows to his tender soul. I can tell he really hopes these new people mean well.
The silence that followed feels tactile. Kevin finally breaks it by revealing that he thinks we’re supposed to be open…open to both genders.
At that point, we…well, I had decided that because of my Palendromic Rheumatism and the absence of cartilage in my most-used joints, I couldn’t keep up with a boy. I had convinced myself (and my husband) that a boy would require more bending and lifting and physical activity than I was able to do. So, still clearly unable to understand how the God of the Universe works, I checked only the “girl” box on our adoption paperwork, and immediately started buying cute little 3T dresses.
But here was this little boy. Looking so alone and so…sonny.
Kevin’s voice is low and waveless when he says he thinks we should pray about also checking the boy box. And by “we should pray”, I know that he means “I think we’ve still got some surrendering to do”. This is the beauty of Kevin. He is sensitive and insightful. Palpably tethered to the Spirit that guides him from within.
24 hours later, we call our adoption caseworker. We sit sweaty together on our end of the speakerphone, hoping she won’t receive our news as indecisiveness. (We hadn’t finished our home study yet and we still had a 600-question psychological exam ahead of us to assure them we were capable of making good decisions- ha!)
We share with her that God used a photo of a little boy to remind us that we hadn’t fully surrendered to His will, and that we think He’s encouraging us to be open to either gender.
She quickly explains that this is wonderful news because it will make for a quicker match. She explained that there were many more boys than girls at the Angel House, so being open to adopting a son would probably lead to a faster match. And then she said this: “It also means he is probably already there”.
My heart began to hammer hard inside my chest.
Will we be matched with a BOY and could he be one of the boys in this photo we were just looking at the day before?
Our minds raced as we looked at all their sweet little faces.
Now this is where the story gets really cool.
5 months later we received a call that our dossier would be entering the Haitian adoption process with Steevenson’s dossier, and 15 months after that we received a phone call from our caseworker saying we were officially matched with him!!!
And now here we are, exactly 1 year later, and I am SO excited to introduce you to our son: Steevenson Chevalier Palmer!!!
I call him “Sonny” for short. 🙂
Even though we didn’t know it at the time, I firmly believe that the reason Kevin was moved so deeply the day he saw Steevenson’s photo is because he was looking into the eyes of his son. The same reason I knew within seconds that we would be checking the boy box the following day. Everything inside me said “open up…”. It was the same familiar whisper that said “adoption”, and “international”, and “Lifeline Children’s Services”, and “Haiti”, and “Three Angels Children’s Relief”.
It can be scary to follow God’s lead without knowing where He’s sending you (or who He’s sending you to!). It can be uncomfortable to wait for God’s timing without knowing when it will come, and challenging to expect miracles without knowing how God will provide. It can be intimidating to trust God’s purpose without understanding all of the circumstances. But that kind of surrender will change your life in the most unimaginable ways, y’all. I can promise you that! 🙂
PS- Our babe’s birth surname used to be Chevalier (which means “gallant or chivalrous gentleman” and is pronounced shuh–volly-ay) so we just skooched it over and made it his middle name. I’ll be back with some more photos and videos of him in action later this week!