Paige and John walk into a department store on Thursday afternoon, each clasping a hand of their young son Caleb. Like normal customers, they look around at the clothes on sale and wander through the different aisles. Suddenly Caleb asks, “Can we go to Disney World this weekend?” “No, honey,” Paige responds. “We can’t go to Disney World this weekend. We already went to Disney World, remember?”
“Yeah,” Caleb replies. “Maybe we won’t go to Disney World this weekend, but I’m loved.”
Paige feels tears beginning to form in her eyes. John finds his eyes wet, too. Both try to hide their faces from Caleb, not wanting him to see their emotion. Caleb, with the innocence of a five-year-old, continues to walk ahead, unable to see how much this small moment means to his parents.
Paige and John recently adopted Caleb, his four-year-old sister Madison, and his two-year-old brother Tyler through Lutheran Services of Georgia’s Adoption Services. They had originally planned to adopt only one or two children, but once they met these three siblings, the parents changed their plans. At this first meeting, Madison ran over to Paige and said, “Hi, mommy!” Paige describes this encounter as “love at first sight.” When he first saw the children, John said to himself, “They are ours.” Despite her feelings of love for the children, Paige was hesitant to adopt them; she worried whether they could handle three children at once. John reassured her, however, and they eventually welcomed all three children into their home.
The three children immediately began pursuing their interests. Tyler, the youngest child, loves sports, and has been playing with his football very often. He likes to paint, too. Madison attends tap dance & ballet classes and enjoys dressing up her baby dolls. Like Tyler, Caleb loves sports; he has been practicing his karate moves and is about to begin taking classes. He also enjoys listening while his parents read him books. Unlike Madison, who has openly expressed her affection for her new adoptive parents, Caleb has been more reserved with his feelings. This is why his seemingly insignificant comment in the department store about being loved meant so much to Paige and John; Caleb finally voiced his affection for his parents.
This moment was all the more poignant because John, a member of the U.S. Army, has been deployed overseas, limiting the amount of time he has been able to spend with his wife and children. Although he is far away from his family, John still communicates often with them and finds creative ways to interact with his children. He has been taping himself reading stories, which he sends to the children. They can slip a DVD into the television and watch their father read a book to them, almost as if he were in the same room as them. Pretty soon, they hope and pray, he will be in the same room as them, and then can continue to grow closer as a family.