If you don’t mind, please indulge me while I reminisce about when we got The Call for Elliott:
Scott’s mom came into town the first week of August, and encouraged us to get away for a night or two to celebrate our anniversary while she watched the kids. That’s not a hard sell, so we said a quick YES, made a reservation for a hotel room in Keystone for Friday night, August 4, and decided we’d hike a pair of 14ers, Grays and Torreys Peaks, early Saturday morning. Scott left work early that Friday, and by 3pm we were sitting in traffic on C-470 toward the mountains. We discovered Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels earlier this summer and had listened to the first in the series on our Yellowstone roadtrip, and I was browsing my phone trying to track down an audiobook of the 2nd in the series when I got a call from a local area code phone number that wasn’t saved in my phone. 3:05pm.
I knew in that instant that it was CCAI, and I knew that there was a file for a kiddo on the other end of the line.
I answered, lo and behold it was Sarah, the sweet Waiting Child Program Manager saying she had a file that they’d like to present to us and asking if I had a minute. I put her on speaker phone – I was in such a daze that I didn’t think to tell Scott who was on the phone, but he had already realized what was happening. That this was it. She gave us a brief overview, little boy, 18 months old, cleft lip and palate, “Would you like to review his file?” We looked at each other with wide eyes, said yes, had no follow up questions because our brains were just blank, blown out of the water. My call log says the call lasted just 3 minutes, which is just nuts for such a life changing moment.
Clearly our plans for listening to a Canadian murder mystery were toast. (And never have I been so okay not reading a book!) Thanks to the glories of smart phones, I read Scott the file while we sloooooowly wound up I-70 and showed him pictures at full stop moments. (My first response when I scrolled to the pictures in his file: “Oh, he’s cute!”) We didn’t have any immediate red flags, so I looked up the phone number for the International Adoption Clinic at our local Children’s Hospital and got the e-mail address to forward the file to for review. (Standard procedure – these docs specialize in kids coming from orphanages, so they have a great baseline of knowledge and understand what they’re looking at in the translated files and pictures/videos!) We knew we wouldn’t hear anything from the doctor until Monday or Tuesday – we had to give an answer to CCAI by Wednesday. Scott had some questions about cleft lip and palate, and I knew I had listened to an episode of the podcast Creating A Family all about adopting kids with cleft lip and palate, so we queued that up and listened, which lasted us the rest of the drive to our hotel.
We had looked into a few dinner options for our anniversary celebration (12 years!!) in Keystone, but when you are pretty sure that you finally know who you’re adopting FROM CHINA, after a year of working toward this moment, come on. There’s really no other option than to go out for Chinese!
(To be clear, Keystone, CO does not have the world’s best Chinese food.)
Saturday morning, we were up by 3:30am and out the door by 4am in hopes of being at the trailhead by 5ish. 14ers are popular hikes here in Colorado, especially on clear sunny summer weekends, so we hit a traffic jam on the pitted 4 wheel road out to the trailhead – we joked that where else but Colorado would there be a 5am traffic jam on a dirt forest service road? The hike was lovely, we summitted Grays by 8am and Torreys at 9:15, and were back at our car heading home by 12:30pm.
This is why you ask a random stranger to take summit pics for you: non-upside down signs and more scenery!
It was a fantastic 7 hours of adventure, beautiful panoramas and encountering a fluffy mountain goat just off the Torreys summit, talking through The File, praying, both feeling that unless there was some reason that we felt we couldn’t provide for his medical needs we were pretty sure he was our kid, and then literally 3 hours straight of talking “baby” names. You guys, Scott is CREATIVE. Hilariously, impressively creative – he kept the names flowing, I laughed and laughed and occasionally gave feedback when he actually came up with a serious suggestion. (And after 3 hours, the only name that we were both excited about was Elliott – the very meaningful, deeply spiritual reasoning behind the name choice. Sorry sweet boy.)
Clearly Scott and I have fun together, but let me just tell you that unfortunately quantity time is not a theme of this season of our life together. Scott works long hours, we have kids and sports and commitments. During the week, he’s gone by 7 most mornings, home around 6:45, then rushing through family dinner and bedtime, and he’s often logging back in to look at work stuff after the kids are in bed or we’re both just wiped out – our time to have real conversations is limited. Having The Call come in just precisely when it did – right at the start of 24 hours of just-us time … that was amazing. To us, that seemed like God pointing a giant arrow at Elliott’s file and saying, “Take this seriously, this is it.”
This whole adoption thing can feel BIG and uncertain and stressful, especially on the unknown front end of things, where it’s all just paying lots of fees and submitting paperwork and committing to something that you know God is calling you towards but feels equal parts grand and foolish. I had been praying for us to be able to both be excited about at least some part of the adoption journey – and God gave that to us. 24 hours of building excitement and anticipation and connection outside of the demands of real life was such a gift, and I am so thankful that this answer to prayer is part of Elliott’s story!