The adoption journey is one of the most beautiful, difficult, and redeeming processes of which one can be a part. It starts with the question, “Why adoption?” Why would you want to involve yourself with someone else’s trauma? There are so many questions that are hard to understand unless you are called to it.
I was initially very skeptical about adoption because we already had a biological daughter. Eventually, my heart was softened and I was agreeable to moving forward. Then, there were so many decisions. Did we want a domestic or international adoption? What age were we open to? What kind of special needs were we willing to parent?
This is information you don’t think about when you get pregnant. You just know you are going to parent the child.
We chose international adoption and started a journey that was forever life-changing.
After two and a half years of a “paper pregnancy,” sweat, tears, and frustration, we were finally matched with a beautiful 18-month boy. In a matter of eight weeks, we were headed on a plane to go get him and finally bring him home. Little did we know the journey that was awaiting us. We left our 4-year-old daughter in the loving hands of family and friends for two weeks while we were away.
Our time overseas was wonderful and everything went according to plan. Liam was adaptive and the attachment and love between us started immediately (which is not always the case). When we came home, our daughter and Liam quickly adored each other and the transition was going very smoothly. I kept thinking, “When is it going to crumble?” All the educa
tion prepares you that it may.
Two weeks after we got home, Liam ended up in the hospital with a bowel obstruction. We were discharged four days later and he was doing well. Four weeks after that, I was preparing to go back to work. Liam showed all signs of being healthy and had met the teachers with whom he would be spending his days.
On the morning of September 1, 2018, Liam started vomiting again and was cranky. (I will also add, he was cutting 6 teeth). But, he was still alternating that with being happy. My husband laid him down for a nap.
That is when our world fell apart.
Early that afternoon, my husband came running upstairs with Liam. He had stopped breathing. Long story short, we ended up at the hospital and an hour later, Liam was pronounced dead.
There is so much more that could be shared. We are still processing his life and ours. With that being said, we would choose him all over again. He was the perfect addition to our family. He changed us and so many other people in a short time of six weeks.
No one wants to think about the hard parts of parenting, but they exist and we need to talk about them. Liam will always be a part of us and we will be a part of him. We will always celebrate his birthday and remember the blessing we were given in him. There have been really difficult moments as well. I still wonder why he had to die. I know someday, we will see him again and the whole picture will make sense. I am here to tell you that no matter how hard it gets, you will survive and the child you were given is ALWAYS worth it.
We are better people and a better family because of Liam. I would personally choose to become better without him having to die, but the Lord has better plans. But don’t let fear hold you back. No matter what happens, you are a family and every moment is worth it. The adopted child forever has a family and his or her life is changed forever. Liam had been abandoned and had lived in an orphanage where he had not gotten the attention and love he deserved. Then, God gave him to us and he experienced more attention and love in six weeks than some of us will experience in a lifetime.
Liam needed a family. Because he now has a family, he is and will always be remembered and celebrated, never forgotten.
Liam’s story shows that everything happens for a reason. If we had traveled one month later, we never would have brought him home. Now he has people who love, celebrate, and grieve his beautiful, wonderful, and short life. Our family is forever marked by a sweet little boy born clear across the world.
Heather Smith is an adoptive mother from Indiana with one biological daughter, and one adopted son. She and her husband, Kyle, are currently in the process of adopting again through Bethany Christian Services.