For most of us baby boomers with children, the kids are now full-grown and living their own lives. But that doesn’t mean we don’t remember the miraculous days they came to us for the first time. And in the case of writer Alan Paul of Hawthorne, New Jersey, the miracle came with an omen.
After nearly ten years of trying harder to have a child than any two human beings should have to try, my wife Jan and I began, like countless couples before and since, doing the fertility dance.
I’ll cut to the chase here: we eventually discovered that it would be very difficult, if not impossible for us to conceive in the generally accepted manner. So we turned toward adoption. We did lots of research and discovered, like many other families-to-be had learned, that local adoptions (meaning kids from the U.S.) were almost non-existent back then. So we moved on to foreign adoptions, specifically in the direction of South Korea.
The most important day of the adoption process arrived on August 7, 1987; that was the day our daughter was scheduled to fly into New York’s Kennedy Airport to meet us for the very first time. (We still refer to August 7th as “Gotcha Day,” and have celebrated it, birthday-like, every year for the past 29 years.) We arrived at the predetermined area in the International Arrivals terminal and waited for what seemed to be forever.
The elevator door finally opened and a tandem stroller was pushed forth. We immediately recognized the occupant of the right seat as our daughter. The passenger sitting there was the most beautiful female child that the Big Guy, in all his infinite power and wisdom, had ever fashioned. And I fell instantly in love. Because she was ours. And we were hers. At long last. Thanks, Big Guy.
There are two postscripts to this story. The first involves how Jan and I arrived at what was to be our daughter’s name. We were antiquing in Nyack, New York one Sunday afternoon and Jan discovered a small table in the corner of a tiny shop, which displayed antique-looking birth announcement cards. There was one card that was specifically designed to be an adoption announcement. The saying on the card was, “She wasn’t expected; she was selected,” and just below that, written in beautifully intricate calligraphy, was the name Carolyn. We agreed on the spot that that would be our daughter’s name.
The second postscript is one I hesitate to reveal, fearing that because it is so fantastic, and so wonderful, and so unbelievable, you will fail to accept it as true. I can only swear to you that what I am about to relate to you absolutely happened, exactly as I write it.
After a half year or more of the adoption process had been completed, we paid a visit to the home of our closest and dearest friends, Debbie and Gary, in part to give them our good news. They were thrilled for us, of course, and we celebrated enthusiastically into the wee hours. We left their house and had travelled for perhaps two or three blocks through the winding roads of their neighborhood, when we noticed something shimmering ahead, right in the center of the road.
I carefully pulled alongside, opened the car door, and lifted a small package into the car. The thing that had impeded our progress that evening turned out to be a pink-and-white plastic bucket, wrapped in cellophane and tied at the top with a ribbon. Through the wrappings we could make out a generous collection of lotions, sponges, Q-tips, powders, and diapers. The kinds of things, of course, that one would give to someone who was expecting a baby. On one side of the face of the bucket, slightly obscured by the cellophane wrapping but still visible, were the words, “It’s a Girl!”
If that wasn’t intervention at its most Divine, I don’t know what is.