Today, April 2nd, is little Sam’s birthday. Our grandson turned five years old today. Hardly seems possible that it’s been four years ago this month that we all traveled to Franklin, Tennessee, to greet his arrival from Kazakhstan.
After Christmas in December 2010, our oldest son, Steve, and his wife, Tonya, traveled to Kazakhstan to complete the adoption process. After many months of preparation, they were finally able to meet their little son in the baby house. Every day for six weeks, they played with him and bonded with him. However, after the official papers were signed, they returned to the States without him. They needed to reconnect with Lily Grace, their three-year-old, who had also been adopted from Kazakhstan two years before. She was staying with her Uncle Marty, Aunt Anna, and her thirteen-year-old cousin Audrey in Maryville, Tennessee. The visas for traveling with Sam still had to be processed, and Steve and Tonya didn’t want to be away from Lily Grace any longer, so they planned for Steve to return to Kazakhstan to get Sam when the visas were ready.
In early April, Steve made the trip back, picked up Sam, and began the long journey home. But what a journey it was! Little Sam had forgotten who Steve was, and the frightened one-year-old cried and cried when Steve carried him away from his caregivers in the baby house. And he never stopped crying during the entire plane trip, except for a few short intervals when he became so exhausted that he fell asleep on Steve’s chest!
Before Steve began the last leg of his trip, he called Tonya. “It will probably be better if Sam doesn’t have a large group of strangers surrounding us to greet him at the airport in Nashville,” he told her. Then he explained what a traumatic time they were having.
We were disappointed, of course, but we understood. Only Tonya and Lily Grace went to meet the plane and welcome Sam to his new home.
Later, we did get to stop by their house and see our new little grandson, but Sam was still not feeling well and Steve was exhausted, so we didn’t stay. Instead, Marty, Anna, Robin and I picked up Lily Grace, and we took her and her three older cousins to the Nashville Zoo.
On our way home from the zoo, Steve and Tonya called to say they were taking Sam to the hospital in Nashville. The poor little fellow had become listless and dehydrated. At the hospital they discovered he had the beginnings of pneumonia! Steve was sick, too, with a virus infection. Lily Grace spent the night with her Aunt Sharon and the big girls there in Franklin, and during the wee hours of the morning, Steve, Tonya, and Sam returned home from the hospital with instructions and medicine. Later that day, Lily Grace came home, too, so Robin and I left the new family to regroup and adjust, and we drove back to Arkansas.
However, the next month, we made another trip to Franklin. By this time Sam was well and everyone was doing so much better! Today we’re so thankful that our little grandson has continued to grow and learn and thrive in his parents’ care.
Happy Birthday, Sam! And may you have many, many more!