Yesterday (Thursday) was our last visit with Titus and it was another really, really great day! I cannot believe that the Lord granted us the honor of our last visit being on his 3rd birthday!!!! That’s been one of the overwhelming themes of this week: so many overly abundant blessings that I feel so unworthy of and it humbles me to the core. We got to Eastern a few minutes early and met another family who had just gotten done with their meeting…it has been such a blessing getting to know a handful of other families and experiencing things together with them!
Soon, that sweet little face appeared at the door way and ran over, reached up his arms for a hug and squeezed me tight! We returned to the playroom on the second floor and started the birthday party haha! Except, the first ones to receive a gift were Colby and me! Titus’ foster parents had a whole bag of gifts for us. On our first visit, I’d given them a memory book with Korean and English translations for them to fill out stuff you’d put in a baby book (like how did you feel when you first met, how old was he when he walked and what was his first word) and that we would pick it up when we returned to take custody. Well, his precious, sweet fm and fd had already filled out the whole thing! I love that it’s all in beautiful, handwritten Korean (a friend will translate it into English for us). To go along with this, they gave us two whole albums filled with baby pictures from their time caring for him. I sat on the floor with his fm and looked through the pictures together while Colby and his fd played with Mr. Wild Man. In addition to all of these priceless treasures, they’d also purchased a set of dolls for us that are wearing the traditional hanboks for a wedding. It’s overwhelming to receive gifts from people who have already given you more than you could ever repay. It’s amazing the bond we feel in our hearts towards his foster parents, and it feels sad to know that we had to say good bye to them until our next trip, too.
After memory lane, it was time to break out the cake! Titus’ social worker had purchased a cake (it’s usually customary for them to have a little “party” at Eastern on their birthdays! In the past, we’ve just gotten pictures on the first two!), so we put on the candles and got ready to sing! We will absolutely treasure the pictures we got with all of us- Titus, his foster parents, and me and Colby- on his birthday forever. They will forever be a part of our story, and how incredibly special for this time to collide so perfectly. We counted to three and sang! I held the Birthday Boy on my lap while Colby got the whole thing on camera and it’s just so sweet. We let him open the presents we brought him while our sw served up the cake. This visit gave us a lot more insight into the potential developmental challenges we may have when we get our sweet boy home. He loved the police car that Colby picked out for him! And he sort of liked the little plastic, Pororo (Korean cartoon character that’s EVERYWHERE here) birthday cake I picked out for him. And by like, I mean he liked to throw all the pieces on the floor and laugh ha! He seems frustrated by activities that require fine motor skills with his hands, but quickly moves on to something else. He did, however, love his Scout dog we’d given him on our first visit! His fm said he’d really been enjoying the music it plays and wanted to bring it on this visit with them to play with. Colby and I got to sing along to a few of the English songs it plays, and music really seems to calm him and help him focus a lot! We each got a piece of super yummy cake, but Titus was not a fan…he didn’t even want to open his mouth to try the icing. Eating is going to be our biggest challenge, for sure. Since it was around lunch time, his fm had packed him little “rice rolls” that looked like sushi, with rice wrapped in seaweed, but without the fish or veggies. She followed him all around the room as he was playing and would stuff a rice roll in whenever she got the chance. From our understanding, this is how daily feedings for him go, and he refuses to even attempt to hold any utensils. We are fairly convinced that the majority of this is due to him being raised by “grandparent-y” foster parents, but nonetheless, this will be a challenge to overcome. We were glad to learn that he does like “rice rolls” and apples, though! I told Colby we better add a rice cooker to our registry haha! It was another incredibly, extra special day and we are so grateful for that!
I thought I would just be in pieces when we left him, but I had the strangest peace about it all. I told Colby that, in a weird way, I felt like we “owed” his foster parents this really special time with him after they’ve met us and feel safe sending him with us. I can’t really explain it other than that. Not that I wasn’t sad, but that it felt ok and I was at peace with the process…which is a miracle in and of itself!
Titus doesn’t know it, but the biggest birthday present he got this year was from today: our court date! This year, Titus got a Forever Family for his birthday.
Today, we went to court with three other Eastern families and I’m so glad we were all there together! It took the pressure off the long drive to the courthouse and the wait for our turn as we all laughed and talked! Finally, it was our turn and we went in and sat before the judge, sitting on his bench, in a small court room with our interpreter and a social worker from Eastern. We both had a peace about the court process all morning and had both re-read our home study to be as prepared as possible for anything he may ask. We were third in line, and both the other families said he was warm and lighthearted, which made us feel even better!
He asked us our names and how to pronounce the kids’ names, and then it was on to the real questions. First question out of the gate? Asking us about our childhoods and how we had both been spanked occasionally as children!?!?!?! Oy Vey! We answered honestly about our childhoods, but also included that this was not the same method we used on our children and did not plan on spanking Titus. Yikes, this was *not* feeling lighthearted. Next, up? Oh, you know, just went straight into asking about Colby’s job change from earlier this year…nbd. Again, we were honest and our answer seemed very well received, but again where’s the lighthearted dude?! Our next question was about one of the adoption education seminars that we attended that seemed to have been lost in the translating process a bit. We explained a bit more in detail and *think* we got the point across…although his face still looked confused. Bah! Then his last question was when we were leaving and what else we’d planned to do on our stay here. His final statement? I’ll be granting you preliminary approval on Monday. Hallelujah! (This was the last big hurdle for us to get over and now we wait for final approval which *may* squeak in before the end of the year! We are praying for this!!)
I left feeling more nervous than when I went in. Even though the end result is what we came here for, the “high achiever” in me felt mad or disappointed that ours didn’t feel as smooth or awesome as the other families we were with. I texted a few family members and close friends that it was OVER woohoo! but also, that it was quite stressful and left me feeling unsettled. My sweet friend, Jennifer, knew exactly what I needed to hear. Her response to me? “I know it’s so hard to let go of all those feelings from these years, but be still and know that He fulfills His promises.” I got tears in my eyes then, and just now, too, writing it. Regardless of how I “feel” like it went, He fulfills His promises. Amen.