Whether the child lived an hour, a year or a decade or more, I’ve haven’t heard a parent say that it wasn’t worth it. But I know many have, in their own quiet thoughts or anguished prayers, agonized over the notion that if I had never known and loved, I wouldn’t hurt so much now.
Like I said, for myself and those in my circle, the heart wrenching answer is it was – it is – worth it. No one would trade away the memories and the path shared just to be free of the pain.
When Ben died, many people, knowing he was adopted, asked us how long we had “had” him. Ben was six when we picked him up from his escort at the Seattle airport. He had a life before us. Six years later, we laid him to rest next to his brother Josh.
These two events are like bookends that encapsulate the time he spent with us. Looking back, it’s sometimes like a surreal memory, as if the Ben “scene” was spliced into our family history by an editor that thought it would make the story more interesting.
I’ve already said it was worth it; but what if we hadn’t found Ben – hadn’t even looked for him? What would be different?
Though one of life’s miraculous coincidences, we received a packet with the profiles of disabled orphans from an international adoption agency. The first thing we would have missed is having the Spirit of the Lord speak to our 10 year old daughter that Bum Keun was her brother. The next thing that we would have missed was having a 7 year old son moved to take up a collection to fund the heart surgery that this little boy with Down syndrome needed but couldn’t get in Korea.
Perhaps the biggest miracle was softening my heart. I had 5 kids – that seemed like plenty. You know this is permanent – not like that free kitten you got from the nice lady at Albertsons that we were allergic to. And there’s no way in heck I want to take on another kid with Downs, especially one with serious medical conditions – that’s a lot of work and a major commitment. And this will cost a lot of money.
A sweet wife and five kids lovingly encouraged me to Ask. After a few days I relented. As we knelt down I intended to put God on notice that I was going to consider this thing. Seconds later I realized this was one of those “what matter of man ought ye to be” moments and Ben became part of the family.
The condensed version is that it took a year and a half to get Ben home. Turns out his heart and lungs were OK, but the “strange behavior” noted in his Korean medical reports was autism. Frankly, life with Ben was never easy – well, with the exception that when he was tired he put himself to bed, something we never enjoyed with any of the other kids.
There were a lot of medical, educational and behavioral struggles. He was never completely potty-trained. But you know, his smile and little laugh made it worth it for everyone. Josh did ask when Ben was going home to Korea a couple of times, but when we explained that Ben was part of the family just like the rest of the kids, he was cool with it.
Even the long wait to get Ben to America was worth it because our adoption paperwork was still current when Sadie was born and we were able to bring that miracle into our home and hearts the very next day.
Ben’s last months were so hard as he struggled with leukemia. It was heart wrenching to see him in such pain. Our home became a cancer ward as we administered IV medication, oxygen and nutrition round the clock. Again, everyone pitched in and no one complained. We all counted Ben’s life as having been well worth the price we paid.
All worth it.