Lisa and I fell deeply in love with our son a month before meeting him. Several years earlier, Lisa had miraculously given birth to our beautiful daughter, Delaney, but no more natural children were in our future. At four, Delaney confidently during dinner one night told us she believed that our family had a hole in it which only a brother could fill. Months went by as we tried to convince her this was not a possibility.
Early one Saturday morning, I answered a phone call. The lady on the other line was a mom whose daughter was on Delaney’s soccer team. The woman said she overheard us talking at a soccer game about adoption. Her next comment shot a chill through my body … “I don’t know what you are looking for, but there’s a baby boy who’s looking to fill a hole in a family.” I woke up Lisa, told her about the conversation and she immediately replied, “Tim, that’s our son.”
One month later the jet transporting us landed at tiny Majuro, the capital city of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. On truly foreign soil, we were prepared – having brought all of the cash we thought we’d need since there were no ATMs, no way of accessing additional funds. The next day, we met with our attorney and started the amazing process of adopting our son … who we still hadn’t met.
Lisa and I remember the emotional day we drove in the taxi to the courthouse to meet this little baby boy. Tears of joy rolled down our cheeks as we waited for the proceedings and watched him play with his fire truck, our eyes fixed on this cute little boy who would soon be OUR son. Finally, the proceedings ended, and he was in our arms. We couldn’t wait to get Carson home!
Unfortunately, unexpected expenses during our short trip had drained nearly all of the cash we had taken. A revised birth certificate? That cost $2,000. Medical records? More money. And on it went everywhere we turned. When we checked in, we were told that the airline was charging us a full fare for our miracle baby boy since he had just turned two. “Cha-ching.”
With plane tickets in our hands and $72 in our pockets, we walked through the swelteringly hot airport to the one gate. The announcement to board the plane came, and we excitedly approached the gate agent … only to be told that $75 per person had to be paid for exit tax! I told the man at the gate I had only $72, and he said we couldn’t get on the plane. Lisa started to cry. Carson started to cry. I started to cry. I told the man he could have any of our belongings, and I begged him to let us go home.
I then felt a tap on my shoulder. A stranger behind me who overheard our discussion asked, “How much do you need?” “I need $153,” I sadly told the gentleman. “Are you sure you don’t need more for a stiff drink on the plane?” he replied while laughing. “No,” I answered. He generously handed $153 to me and went on to say he worked for Western Union and was on Majuro trying to set up a wire transfer service. Nearly speechless from amazement, I said I would send the money to him when we landed in Honolulu. “Don’t worry about it,” he kindly answered. “Consider it your Father’s Day gift. Happy Father’s Day.” I had forgotten that it was Father’s Day!
A complete stranger showered love and compassion on us that day. Tears of joy streaming down our faces and hearts full of thankfulness, we carried our new son aboard the plane. Fourteen years have since come and gone, and our love affair with our island boy continues to grow. He not only filled the hole in our family, but he has expanded the love in our hearts and reminds us what love is all about.
This February 14, as you contemplate love, broaden your horizons. Love is all around us, waiting to be recognized, seized and shared. Recognize opportunities, seize them and generously share your love with those near you.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Ducks!