We loved hearing from Emily Hodum about the family’s recent adoption! Read our interview here.
Tell me a little about your adoption story. What was the process like? What led you to adoption?
I (Emily) went on a mission trip in 2011 to Bulgaria. This was the most life-changing experience I have ever had. During this trip, we visited orphan homes and loved on the sweet children. When I arrived home, I immediately went to Nathan and told him “Nathan, God is calling us to adopt a child.” He listened and simply said “Sure, honey, we will look into it.”
We really didn’t discuss it further or move forward on this thought until we attended a Stephen Curtis Chapman concert. At this concert, SCC showed a video and talked about orphan care. Nathan’s eyes filled with tears and he said “Emily, God is calling us to adopt.” I let him think this was his idea and said “Ok, let’s do this.”
We began praying for God to reveal to us where He wanted us to adopt. It became very evident that we were to adopt from Russia. We contacted New Beginnings and began our home study. One month into our home study, we got the news that Russia had shut the doors to the U.S. We were devastated! We went to God in prayer to seek His guidance in what to do next. We felt God was leading us to Bulgaria. After all, I had left a piece of my heart in that beautiful country in 2011.
We re-did our home study and contacted an agency who placed children from Bulgaria. We completed paperwork, background checks and our home study. We were anxiously awaiting our referral of our sweet Bulgarian baby! The wait was excruciating! Days turned to weeks, weeks to months. When we hit the one-year mark, we were very discouraged. We were told our paperwork was in Bulgaria and we were waiting on a referral. Little did we know these words were only lies. We were, once again, devastated!
We were at the point of giving up when Nathan decided to call New Beginnings. He was actually only calling for advice. He talked to sweet Renae, and she was such a voice of hope. She informed us that New Beginnings not only did home studies and domestic adoptions, but also received referrals for children in Poland and were opening up a new program in Taiwan. She told us she would have Victoria give us a call to discuss our options. We had an amazing conversation with Victoria a few days later.
Poland was actually looking really good to us. Then the most amazing thing happened…Wednesday night at 9pm we were lying in bed about to go to sleep. Nathan’s phone beeped, alerting him he had received an email. The email was from Victoria. She asked us if we would be interested in looking at a referral of a sibling group from Taiwan. We had discussed adopting siblings, but said we could not take more than two children at a time. We agreed to look at the referral, but also said we were just looking…no commitments. Ten minutes later we opened up an email and saw two beautiful little Taiwanese girls looking back at us. We read the message with the referral and were pretty much blown away.
This was not a referral for just two girls, it was a referral for three children! How could we possibly take three children? We already had an eight-year-old boy at home. Victoria told us that this was a referral for two of the three siblings. She did not have the referral for the third sibling. She said she would forward it to us as soon as she received it. In the meantime, we read over the referral for the girls. They were seven and eight years old and absolutely beautiful! Their medical history was clear. They were just perfect! We prayed a lot in the next few days. We finally said if we were going to accept the referral of three, the third child must be healthy, three years old or younger, and preferably, a boy.
Exactly five days after we received the referral for the girls we received our next email from Victoria. Here it was, the referral for the third sibling. We opened it up and there we sat and stared at the absolute cutest little boy. Our son immediately looked at us with tears in his eyes and said “Please can we keep them?” We stopped before we made any rash decisions and knew we had to review the referral. We had a referral for a perfectly healthy three-year-old boy! Exactly what we asked for.
We prayed about it for a couple of days and then contacted Victoria with our answer. We accepted the referral and began the roller coaster journey to our children. We then had to update our home study, complete the needed paperwork and background checks. Our process included many ups and downs. We prayed many prayers and cried many tears. Finally, after 16 months, we had our travel date! February 21, 2015 we boarded a plane in Memphis to bring our babies home! We arrived in Taiwan on February 21 (after traveling almost 23 hours) and were exhausted.
We were very anxious to meet our children for the first time. We had had three skype visits with them, but this would be the first face-to-face meeting we would have. We had thousands of questions going through our heads. Would they like us? Would they be terrified? We couldn’t wait! When we arrived in Taiwan, they were in the middle of Chinese New Year, so we still had a couple of days before we were able to visit Chung Yi and our children. I will never forget that day! We were so nervous, but excited, all the same. When we walked into the foyer of Chung Yi, there they were. Little Alex immediately ran to us and screamed “Mommy, Daddy!” and gave both of us a big hug. The girls were a little more reserved, but quickly warmed up to us. We visited the Children’s Science Museum with the children, and it was such a wonderful day! The hardest thing we had to do was take them back to the orphanage. The very next day was the big day! We signed papers to officially adopt our children! They were ours! February 26 we arrived back in Memphis and began our life as a family of six!
What were the trips to Taiwan and back like for you and your husband?
We only had to make one trip to Taiwan. We were in country from February 21-26. Our trip went very smoothly! Our translator, Serena, was amazing! Everyone at Chung Yi was wonderful, as well.
How was the experience for your children? How did your eldest child react to the process? From what I heard, he was really excited.
Leading up to our trip to Taiwan, Brayden (our oldest son) was extremely excited! Each night he made sure his little brother’s side of the room was neat and ready for his arrival. He constantly talked about teaching him to play football and baseball. When we first saw the children it was an instant connection. They fell right into place naturally. There were no tears or fears from them. They are the happiest children. The moment Brayden saw the children at the airport when we arrived in Memphis, he immediately teared up and ran to hug them. The four of them are so happy together. We were surprised at how well the girls and Brayden got along. Our house is now full of constant laughter.
What was the first night home like?
Our first night at home was so special. The children never had a problem at bedtime. We told them to get ready for bed and they all immediately went straight to bed. They have slept through the night from the very beginning. The most incredible part was just looking into the bedrooms and seeing all four of our children finally home. God is so good!
How have your kids adjusted to life in Mississippi?
The children are true Mississippians. It’s so funny to hear their “country/Asian” accents. Brooklyn draws out the word “brown” in the most country voice. They love going outside and playing in the dirt. They would rather go fishing than anything else. Madilyn said her favorite food is BBQ chicken. In one sitting, this little 53 lb. girl ate seven BBQ chicken legs! Alex was so excited that we planted tomatoes in our garden. He runs outside every day to see if he has a red “yomato,” as he calls it.
How has your life changed since coming home?
Our life has turned upside down, but in an amazing way. These three children were the missing pieces of our family. We can’t even remember what it was like without them. There is never a quiet moment in our home anymore, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
What advice would you give prospective adoptive parents?
Be patient and prayerful. It is the most amazing experience you will ever go though. It makes it all worth it when we hear little statements like we hear from our little Alex. He tells us daily “I like Mommy and Daddy’s eyes big, I like Mommy and Daddy’s hair big, I like Mommy and Daddy forever big!”