We chatted with Jessica Wood, AGCI adoptive mom to 3-year-old Merritt about their adoption journey!
How did you begin your adoption journey?
We started with AGCI in January of 2014 but I felt like the Lord was really writing our story years before that.
Throughout 2013, we were really researching adoption, and for whatever reason we just kept coming back to the Philippines. We hadn’t ever met anybody from the Philippines, we didn’t have any connection to it, but God was really laying it on our hearts.
I feel crazy saying this, but I just knew that we had a little boy in the world that we needed to find. I didn’t tell many people that, but I just had this feeling that I already missed him. Which is crazy because that’s when he was born—towards the end of 2013.
Why did you choose AGCI?
This is a God thing—years before we had decided that we were actually going to adopt and go through with it, I was just really interested in what AGCI was doing. I remember telling my husband Garrett, if we ever do adopt I really hope it can be through AGCI.
Our story is similar to a lot of families’ stories in that I was very ready to adopt and it took Garrett a while to feel that he was ready and that it was time to start.
I just felt God pushing us that way and then it sealed the deal when we found out that AGCI had just started a pilot program for the Philippines.
I just love AGCI and I recommend AGCI to everyone who asks me about adoption!
What was it like to be matched with your son?
For the Philippines program, each month we’d look through bulletins through the special home finding list. I was feeling pretty exhausted from looking through them feeling pretty dejected.
It was June 2015 when the list came out and I was like Garrett, you can look through it, I just don’t want to. Kate (case manager) emailed us a few hours after it came out with Merritt. She told us she had requested his info for us.
We opened it up and I was like, oh my gosh how could I have not looked at the bulletins this is our son! Thank goodness for Kate!
So we applied. There were multiple families who applied for him and so we had to wait for four months to see if the Philippines would choose us. That was the longest and hardest part of the journey for me.
I kept telling Garrett, what if they make a mistake? What if they don’t pick us? We’re his family! But thankfully they did!
What was it like meeting your son for the first time?
I tried really hard to not have any expectations. I knew going in that all he knew was his orphanage and the people there and his friends there and the wonderful women who were caring for him. He didn’t know us. He didn’t have any expectations for the day, and so I was trying really hard for us not to have any expectations for the day.
When we walked into the room, it took me a moment to figure out where he was. Which is kind of a weird feeling, to know your son is in the room but not be able to find him. But we finally found him and we reached down to say hello and he reached up and slapped me across the face.
And I was like, ok, that broke the moment and now we can just be real! We still laugh about it because I have never seen him do that again so I don’t know what that was about.
AGCI had done a really good job of preparing us for that. It took him awhile to warm up to us. I think we were in the orphanage for about two hours just trying to get him to feel comfortable. We had cookies and balls and were trying to get his attention and he would come over and take them from us and just do everything he could to not look at us. He would get closer and closer and then run to the other corner of the room. It was a process.
But finally we got in a quiet corner and he came and sat in my lap and we sang Jesus Loves Me and he finally looked up at me. And I was like, ok, we can do this. It’s going to work.
How has the transition been?
So good. Once we left the orphanage and got him to the hotel and it was just the three of us, he clicked and it was so obvious to us that he was our family.
The next day, we went back to the orphanage and he could not get close enough to me. We held him for the entire five hours that we were there. I feel like he just already knew that he was ours.
He’s been home for 5-and-a-half months and is about to turn three in a couple weeks! He is doing so well! He’s like a completely different kid. He’s learning to talk and he’s just relaxing and settling in to being home. He knows this is his family and his home.
Adoption is such a blessing. It’s so wonderful to see how kids can flourish once they get home and have the love of a family.
Do you have any advice for families considering adoption?
The advice that I keep giving families is, just ask God. He will make it clear. I think it’s clear through His word that adoption is really important to Him and it’s something that He has commissioned all of us to either provide for or care about.
And just keep walking through it. It’s hard, it’s overwhelming, it’s exhausting, there’s more paperwork than you could ever imagine, but you will get through it! The Lord already knows where your child is and He will make a way for you to get there. It’s so worth it.
You can learn more about the Wood family’s adoption journey on Jessica’s blog!