Life is full of surprises. I never had a concrete plan for what I thought my future would look like but I can tell you I didn’t imagine what my reality is. Getting married and teaching for a couple of years wasn’t so farfetched. That I enjoyed teaching as much as I did was a surprise to me. I took the path of least resistance at college and teaching fit the bill for me. It wasn’t till graduation that I realized it was indeed my passion. Marrying Steve meant moving to BC, and as a real home body who grew up on the prairies I was surprised to find that Abbotsford became home so quickly and I soon grew to even appreciate these mountains that at first were closing in on my need for wide open spaces.
My first major surprise came a couple years into our marriage. After weeks of feeling moody, sick, and tired, Steve was so fed up with me that I remember his parting comment as he left the house, “I don’t know what your problem is! Maybe you’re pregnant or something!!” The door slammed and I was left to ponder this new and baffling thought. “Yeah right. No way. Not possible….. What if? Could it be? Oh My Goodness.” Wasn’t Steve in for a jolt when I phoned him a few hours later to say he was right?! I enjoyed teaching so this shocking news took a while to digest but when that little red head (another BIG shock) took up residence in my life and in my heart, I was thanking God for unexpected surprises.
Our next surprise came a year later when we decided that this time we would not be caught unaware but would “plan” to add another child to our family. Surprise, shock, devastation was our reaction to the news that this was not something we could hope for. So our paths took a different turn. I’ll never forget the Friday afternoon I was vacuuming when the phone rang. Tears poured down my face as I clutched my four-year-old to my chest and listened to a woman tell me about the most beautiful little nine-month-old boy waiting for us in Thailand. When Steve brought his adorable pictures home later that day, we were again thanking God for surprises. Little did we know that this would not be our last surprising phone call.
Fast forward a couple years to another shocking call. We were enjoying a quiet evening with the boys when I picked up the receiver and heard the words, “There is a woman in labour. Right now. And she’d like you to be the parents. Come to the hospital in the morning and we’ll work out all the details.” Talk about a sleepless night! With no time to prepare or even warn our children we were off to MSA to meet our son. One look at that tiny five pound boy who needed me as much as I needed him and my heart was overflowing with gratitude for unanticipated surprises.
A few years later, we experienced another life changing phone call that sent us around the world in short order to become the proud parents to the cutest little Korean boy we’d ever met. The surprise this time was due to the fact that we had applied to adopt from China and most likely this meant a little girl. But who can predict the twists and turns of the adoption path and low and behold, in our arms was placed a little boy who absolutely belonged from the moment we saw his chubby little face. This surprise again brought incredible amounts of joy, we were blessed with four beautiful boys, but we were sure we were done with those kinds of surprises.
Until a fateful April day. You would think, with my wealth of experience with these types of surprises, that I would have been a little more prepared. But in the past, the surprise was more in the how and the when. We knew we were applying to adopt so at some point we hoped to hear news. The surprise was that we never knew if it could take months or years, boy or girl, local or across the world. But on April 27, 2012, I listened in stunned silence as a social worker informed me that Owen’s birth mom had had another baby. The social worker had to check a few times to see if I was indeed still on the line. My spinning brain and wildly beating heart prevented my mouth from uttering even a gasp.
When I gathered my wits about me, I managed to ask one important question, was it a boy or a girl.
Boy. My only response was to laugh. For once I was NOT surprised.
I’ll never forget phoning Steve. It was reminiscent of that phone call 13 years ago when I told him he was going to become a dad. There’s not a lot of conversation happening when both people are stunned into silence. Steve still remembers where he was driving on both occasions. But just like 13 years ago, after taking a few weeks to recover from the shock and adjust to the news, there was peace. And the moment we walked into the door of that apartment in Korea on the 18th floor and I saw my little Levi interacting with his new big brothers, I was smitten. No doubt about it. He was mine the moment I met him and his adorable little face, his happy disposition and his sweet, somewhat slobbery kisses are a treasure that could never be matched in gold.
I don’t know that I will ever be properly prepared for the surprises life brings. But I shudder to imagine how boring and empty my life would be without my five surprises.