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Adoption stories

Rochelle Stackhouse
Bethlehem, PA

Birth Country: South Korea
Decade of adoption: 1990s

My husband and I adopted three children from South Korea throughout the 1990s. Our scond daughter, Leah, arrived home in 1997, two weeks before her first birthday.

Leah had been a "waiting child," which is adoption code for special needs or disabilities, an older child or sibling group. We first saw her picture in our agency's magazine with other waiting children. At seven months, with some health questions, she was considered "old" for Korean adoption. Our social worker hoped her arrival would be expedited, but paperwork got lost by governments both in the U.S. and Korea, and it felt like forever before all the red tape could be laid out correctly. A friend said it was just like pregnancy, but I replied that when you are pregnant, at least you know exactly where the baby is and if the baby is healthy! Adoptive parents often feel bonded with their child from the moment they see that first picture, and the wait to see them in person seems interminable.

Finally, she arrived home almost a year after we started the adoption process. She was escorted to us in Boston by a Korean businessman who spoke some English. After he handed her to me, he gave me a woman's brown silk blouse. He explained that Leah's foster mother had loved her very much and was very worried about how this child would take the separation and plane flight. So she gave Mr. Park one of her blouses. It smelled like her foster mother, she explained, and it would comfort the child if she became upset.

At that moment I understood that through all my waiting, Leah was in the care of the most wonderful woman, and I need not have spent a moment of worry. Nearly nine years after her arrival, we still have that blouse, hanging in a place of honor in her closet. Leah knows the story, and each year on Mother's Day we pray with thanks for both of her Korean mothers.

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