Journey to Judah: Part ii - The E-mail
(Be sure to read the post “The Call” before this part of the story.)
December 12, 2017
My heart pounded as Marcus opened his laptop and pulled up the e-mail that could change our lives forever. We read the subject line: Mahesh’s referral for review! Mahesh. Could that be our son’s name? Was this it?
I looked at the sender’s name and smiled at the irony. Elise. When we had begun our adoption process 4.5 years earlier, Elise is exactly who I expected to send us a referral e-mail. At that point, though, we were waiting for a referral from Ethiopia, and she was working as our Family Coordinator in the Ethiopia program. 4 years passed and brought several new Family Coordinators our way as one by one they transitioned to new roles, while we remained steady and sure of our wait in Ethiopia. Now, here we were, full circle, back where we started with Elise....only in a different country program this time. We had both moved to the India program in God’s perfect timing, and He had reconnected us here in this moment.
I took a deep breath as Marcus clicked open the e-mail:
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Dear Marcus and Kayla,
Congratulations on your referral review opportunity for Mahesh! He is 8 months old and is from Hyderabad.
*As we discussed, Hyderabad processes sometimes extend longer than the typical India process with fewer updates from the orphanage, and your family would need to be prepared to take two trips to travel for the court date.
Referral Information Attached
The following information was provided via email from the orphanage and is attached for your review
Photos and Videos-
We do not know the date of the photos and videos but can ask the orphanage for that information.
MER- Medical Exam Report
CSR- Child Study Report
According to the orphanage staff Mahesh is said to be doing very well and his development is age appropriate. He did have an allergic reaction to something and he is being treated for this. The orphanage staff said he is an active and happy child.
Age: 8 months
Height: 62cm= 24.8” tall
Weight: 5.5kg = 12.1 lbs.
Head Circumference: 43cm = 17.2”
Of course this information is based on the perceptions of orphanage staff and we cannot independently verify its accuracy.
- - - - -
After reading the body of the e-mail, we opened the first photo. There he was: Mahesh. He was propped up in a bouncer wearing a gray and white t-shirt. His face was covered with a patchy rash, and he had a bindi on his forehead, drawn on by his caretakers to protect him from “the evil eye.” His large, dark eyes were staring straight at the camera, his full lips were pink and emotionless, and his thin, wispy hair was sticking up on his head. He was beautiful.
Silently, Marcus clicked through a few more photos: another in the bouncer, one on someone’s lap, and one being held in a standing position- all in the same gray and white shirt, all with the same rash on his face. Then, there was one more. He looked to be a bit younger in that photo.
I felt so many emotions as I looked into his eyes: hope, excitement, worry, sadness, fear. Marcus and I looked at each other, eyes wide and tight smiles on our faces.
Then he opened the two attachments, the Medical Exam Report and the Child Study Report. We read through 5 pages of information about health stats and milestones and history. Much of it was lacking in detail or left completely blank.
Without saying anything, Marcus opened a second e-mail to find 3 videos. In one, the little boy was sitting in the bouncer again. Someone called out his name, “Mahesh!” and he turned suddenly to look at them. In another, he was holding a large rubber duck. The sound of children crying in the background was overbearing. Marcus opened the last video, and there he was again, standing with assistance. He bounced up and down just a bit and flashed a quick smile. My heart bounced up and down too. Tears filled my eyes.
That moment was nothing like I imagined it would be. I had these visions of sobbing happy tears and feeling an instant connection to a photo. Instead, it was this intense, weighty, surreal moment of hope intermingled with the unknown. I was drawn to that little boy. I was captivated by his deep, dark eyes. I wanted to take him into my arms and tell him that everything would be okay. I desperately wanted him to be our son....but I was also afraid to get my hopes up. So many questions swirled around my mind:
-What if something happened to disrupt this adoption?
-What if his medical needs were more than we could handle? We said yes to this when it was hypothetical, but what will it be like in real life?
-What is that rash really from? It doesn’t look like an allergic reaction.
-Why is he so small? Surely those are old measurements. Surely he’s not really 12 pounds and 24 inches at 8 months old.
-Would it really take 18 months to bring him home? We’ve been waiting 4.5 years already. Can my heart take this? He wouldn’t be home until he’s over 2. Can his heart take that?
-Can we afford two trips to India? Can we even afford this adoption process?
The questions continued to come for me as I clicked through those photos again. The worries. The fears.
Not Marcus, though. He said that he knew that little boy was his son the moment we got the phone call - before seeing him, before reading about him, before knowing anything about him other than his age and a brief history. So sure and steady. He compared opening the e-mail and seeing that first photo of him to seeing the first ultrasound of our daughters, “Except he was cute and looked like a baby instead of a beluga whale.” (Such a sweet sentiment, I know.) It was exactly what he expected. His assurance spurred me on and tipped the scale so that excitement, trust, and hope won out over worries or fears. The questions began to fade into the background, quickly being replaced with prayers for this little boy.
Our next step was to send this file to an international adoption doctor to be reviewed. After it had been reviewed and we had consulted with the doctor, we had to say “yes” or “no” to this file, to this person, to this little boy on the other side of the world waiting for a family with no choice in the matter. That is a heavy load to bear. We carried it on our knees in prayer.
I saved his photos and videos on my phone. With each glance into his eyes, each time I pushed play, my heart for him grew stronger. Each time I said his name, “Mahesh,” I got butterflies in my stomach. My desire to fight for him and protect him and get to him grew exponentially. My prayers for him did not cease.
Before we had even heard back from the international adoption doctor, we knew that he was our son. There was nothing that doctor could have said to us that would have change our minds. The Lord had laid him on our hearts. After 4.5 years, we finally had a name and a face to go with the fervent prayers for our son. We were so sure and felt such peace about it that we introduced our girls to their brother 2 days after we had received the e-mail.
For some reason, Eliza was convinced that her brother’s photo was coming in the mailbox. For months, she had said, “Let’s check the mail and see if Judah’s picture is in there.” We’d check the mail, and she’d say, “Nope. Not today, but maybe tomorrow!” So what did we do? We printed out his photos and put them in the mailbox, of course! Eliza and Hattie went to check the mail with their Daddy and got one of the biggest surprises of their lives. We had a sweet video of it all, but it somehow got deleted. It doesn’t matter though, that moment will forever be ingrained in my mind: the moment they realized that God had answered their prayers for their brother, the moment they hugged and kissed their brother’s photos with adoration, excitement, and zero hesitations.
The one-week wait to hear back from the international adoption doctor was brutal. Looking back on it, I’m not even sure why we waited for that phone call. As soon as we hung up from our phone conference with the doctor, we immediately called our adoption agency and said “YES!” to this file, making us officially matched with our son on December 19, 2017.
We still had more questions than answers. We were still facing the unknown, but we were ready to battle for this little boy. He was our son, and we would do whatever it took to bring Judah Mahesh home. We went into the Christmas season praying for miracles. We prayed that somehow, someway we’d spend Christmas 2018 together as a family of 5. That request seemed lofty and impossible, but God is still a God of miracles. To read more about that miraculous battle, read the “Battle Cry” series on our blog. In summation, though, people prayed and God moved mountains. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. Everything we were told in our initial phone call was wrong:
-His medical file was incorrect. He was either misdiagnosed or God healed him before we arrived in India.
-We did not experience longer than average wait times. We actually had one of the fastest timelines we’ve ever heard of in the India adoption program - 5 months and 1 week from matching with him to bringing him home. Miraculous.
-We did not have to make 2 trips to India. Instead, we made one trip. We left for India with an unknown timeframe, and God showed off, bringing us home with our son in just over 3 weeks. (Read about that miraculous journey in our “Journey to Judah” series.)
We are in awe that God would perform miracles before our very eyes, we are humbled that He would move mountains on our son’s behalf, and we will never stop praising Him for allowing us to be a part of this story.