The first months of the toddler’s life could be described as a tragedy.
Wrapped in a blanket, the boy was left near a police station in the Guan region of China. He was born Aug. 6, 2008, the first day of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
The boy was taken to an orphanage where he was named Fuwa Guan. In Chinese, Fuwa translates to “good luck dolls,” which were the mascots of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Guan is the region where he was found. Since it is illegal to abandon a child in China, his birth parents left no records of why he was abandoned.
The boy was born with congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV) or known as clubfoot, a congenital birth defect. In this case both feet were turned inward.
“An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break,” according to a Chinese proverb.
Paul and Linda Myers believe that thread connected their lives to the toddler in China.
Linda Myers, the principal at Victor Point Elementary School and the curriculum director for Silver Falls School District, knew she was “done” having children. She and Paul are the parents of Cole, 10; Elise, 6; and Emerson, 3.
But she wasn’t sure she wanted to forego the idea adopting a child.
Busy with their work – Paul is a behavioral specialist for Whittaker Middle School in Salem – and raising children, Linda attempted to shelf the idea of adopting. But as it turns out, fate, she said, wouldn’t let her. It seemed everywhere she turned there were signs that she and Paul should adopt a child from China – from listening to a report about abandoned children in China to a calendar she received in the mail.
Both Paul and Linda were concerned about the expenses and they had heard only girls were available for adoption from China. “Since we had two girls, we kind of wanted a brother for Cole,” Linda said.
Deciding to take a chance, Linda signed up with the Holt Adoption Agency, which sent her an email seeking families to adopt boys.
In October 2008, the Myers begin the process of filing out what seemed like “never-ending paperwork” that lasted until March.
“There was a point when the paperwork became almost ridiculous,” Linda said. “We had to jump through so many hoops to bring a baby into our loving family.”
Laughing, Linda recalled times when adoption was way “harder than being pregnant.”
Everything, she added, was worth it when in May they received news from the agency that they had been matched with a boy who had orthopedic issues.
Seeing the picture of her soon-to-be son, Linda was awestruck.
“Oh, my word,” Linda recalled saying when she first saw the photograph, “he’s beautiful and he’s perfect.”
The Myers decided to name him Jackson Noah or Jack. “We loved the name Jack but I wanted something a little more formal, hence the Jackson,” Linda said. “Paul really wanted to name him Noah – so our
compromise was Noah for the middle name.”
The seven-to-nine week wait to go to China to meet their son was a trying point for Linda, who is the first to admit she’s neither good at waiting nor at not being in control.
“The wait was horrific,” she said. “I kept thinking someone else was raising my baby and I was missing all the milestones of his life. I was starting to panic.”
She said she was thankful for Paul’s strength, encouragement and wisdom when she was feeling anything but. She also said her faith helped her each step of the way. The Myers are members of Emmanuel Bible Church.
“I can’t imagine doing this without the confidence that God is in control of our lives and of every situation,” Linda said. “The stress of the unknown and the things that are ‘out of our control’ would be unbearable without our faith and the prayer support and encouragement of our church family. Every step of the way we were reminded that God was handling the details – and we were just along for the ride.”
Finally in November, the Myers received word they could travel to China. In her blog at jacksjourneyfromchina.blogspot.com, Linda reflected about the chain of events leading to becoming Jack’s parents and how God has been there every step of the way in their lives and Jack’s.
“We can’t imagine doing this without a strong faith to sustain us,” Linda wrote on Nov. 27. “The fears and anxieties of travel and the unknown are completely manageable because we have the thorough confidence that God will provide and protect. …”
On Dec. 2, Paul, Linda, Cole and Elise left for China with Emerson staying home with Linda’s mom, Mary Shickley.
They spent three days in Beijing with an adoption orientation and a visit to the Forbidden City, Tiannanmen Square and the Olympic Plaza. Then they were off to Kunming, where Jack’s orphanage was. It is also where Linda’s brother, Steve, and his wife, Marlene, along with their children, Ashlyn, Brayden, MiKayla and Sydney lived.
“When we walked into the room at the Civil Affairs Office, Paul immediately knew it was our baby,” Linda said. “We were told by the agency that when your child is handed to you that they might cry, scream, bite or cling to the provider.”
“Jack-Jack waved,” Cole said. “He seriously waved at us.”
“Within three minutes, he was totally smiling,” Linda added. “I think having Cole and Elise with us totally helped. They made funny faces and he would giggle or they would play peek-a-boo and he would laugh.”
Although he never had any meltdowns, Linda and Paul noticed Jack was tentative at times and was going through a grieving process.
Paul said he thinks Jack may have recognized his new family since they had sent him a book with their photographs.
During the interview for this story, as their sisters played in another room, Cole took his role of big brother seriously. He sat with his mother as she talked and kept an eye on Jack, who despite having a 3-pound cast on each leg, crawled around the living room. He hoisted himself to a standing position to plunk away at the keys on the grand piano – even accompanying his older brother as he played.
His role as an older brother, Cole said, is to introduce Jack to “Legos, sports and videos. He already knows how to use the remote control.”
Reflecting on what has happened from October 2008 when she and Paul agreed to adopt a child to the present, Linda concludes Jack’s story has a sad beginning. But, she said, if it had any other beginning then “he would never be here with us.
“The tragedy is his past. We will never know why what happened, happened. The only thing we have to know is that Jack was meant to be with us,” she said.