Our Thailand Grand Finale

[ 5 ] July 27, 2012 |

After seeing the historical sights of the city, the mountains and elephants of the North, and the beaches of the South we were feeling pretty great about our time in Thailand – none of that compared to the Grand Finale we got to share with our friends in Bangkok. By Grand Finale I mean an amazing, over the top, incredible, emotion stirring, life changing, exhilarating, love-provoking event.

While we were in Cambodia we got news that our friends Jennifer and Jason Holmes had received final approval on their international adoption from Thailand and their travel trip was scheduled for June. They were coming to pick up their little girl Jade! Like most adoptions they had persevered through many disappointing delays and hurdles that come with the territory, but they had always had faith that God’s timing was perfect.

Wilson-Holmes, Bangkok, Thailand

We first met Jason last December in Uganda when our paths crossed on the Orphan’s Heart mission trip. His wife Jennifer and I became friends through Facebook as I followed their adoption blog and she followed our travels. The Holmeses live in West Virginia and have a four-year-old son named Jaxon.

When they got their final travel dates and we realized we would still be in the region, we touched base and offered to help in anyway we could. They graciously invited us to join them for the whole experience. Having never met us in person, I know that was a huge leap of faith on Jenn’s part. Primarily we all hoped that Pat and I could help to entertain Jaxon while they focused on bonding with Jade and managing all of the adjustments that come with a new toddler in the family as well as the official side of the adoption.

Jax and Alison

Pat and I traveled back to Bangkok and checked into the same hotel where the adoptive families stay. We had a room right down the hall from the Holmeses and were able to navigate around town a bit to run some errands for everyone before they arrived. When they got there- it was like we had known each other forever. These are definitely friends we were meant to have.

Anxiously Awaiting the Holmeses Arrival- Door Decoration

The adoption formalities took ten days in Bangkok to complete. They used a very reputable agency that made sure things went seamlessly. For Pat and me it was an invaluable experience to watch the process unfold.

As they recovered from jet lag on their first day in town we all went to dinner on a cruise down the Chao Praya River. We got to sample tons of Thai food and watch some traditional dancing along the way.

Dinner Cruise

Thai Dancer

The next morning was the big day! The day they met their daughter Jade, in person, for the very first time. I know my nerves were nothing compared to theirs, but we were all pretty expectant about the first moments. We all waited in a hotel room with the other three families who were also meeting their children. When the time came, Jade in all her perfect cuteness arrived with her social worker. Jennifer, Jason and Jax sat patiently on the floor and waited for her to slowly work her way towards them. The apprehension was soon relieved when Jade plopped into Jennifer’s arms almost immediately. With a giant exhale and tears in our eyes everything was finally as it should be!

Jade’s Entrance

Getting Closer

Jaxon Breaking the Ice with Jade

Finally in Her Mama’s Arms

For the next few hours they got to spend time with her in their own hotel room with a social worker there to help with the adjustment.  It didn’t take long for Jax and Jade to bond. Pat and I tried to capture every moment on camera and video. That afternoon, the social worker took Jade back and she returned to her foster home. That parting was painful to watch, knowing that she was beginning to realize big change was on the way.

Forever Family

Together at Last

The next day Jade was again brought to the hotel for more bonding and playtime. Jaxon was fantastic during all of this transition. He has a precious personality that is so sweet but also keeps you in stitches. Of course he was undergoing a major change of his own, learning to share his parents attention, affection, and time. Pat and I had a few fun surprises to keep him busy when the spotlight needed to be shared.

Watercolors with Jax

Jaxon’s Clothesline Art Gallery

Pat “Cooking” Jax into Something

Jax Playing Doctor

Pat and Jax

Midmorning everyone went on a group-shopping trip with the social workers. It was interesting to see the products and supplies that they prioritized. With peace and happiness as the top priority I know all the adoptive parents just bought whatever they told them too and planned to do it their own way later.

In the afternoon we all loaded up in a van with Jade and went to see her foster home about two hours away. As an outsider I thought it was really special to get to see where she had spent the first sixteen months of her life. I didn’t know that was common in some international adoptions. It was so good to meet her foster family and see how much they loved her. We got to visit with the entire family and see some of the things Jade liked to do. We walked to a playground nearby and to the river where she liked to feed the fish with her foster dad. Her foster mom adored her and always made sure she had cute pigtails and bows. Her foster cousins even let her sleep in the bed with them (a habit that was hard to break we hear.) At the end of the visit, there was one more goodbye for Jason and Jennifer to endure. This was the last time they would have to leave their girl, and it was Jade’s final night with her foster family. The foster home brought many mixed emotions for everyone. In some ways it was startling to see the circumstances she lived in, in others it was sad to think about how much she would miss this place and these people. I think Jennifer and Jason saw it as such a privilege to get to know anything about the time before she was forever theirs.

Jade’s Foster Home

Jade Feeding Fish in the River with her Foster Dad

Jenn’s Last Goodbye, Jade and Jade’s Foster Mom

The next day was “gotcha day.” In the morning, the social workers brought Jade and a few small bags of her belongings to the hotel and passed her over to the Holmeses for good. The rest of the day was spent playing and staring at this beautiful girl. Jade was the poster child for smooth transition. She is social and smiley, she loves to play and eat. Her woes came mainly at night, but even those Jennifer was able to comfort her through. In a lot of ways, Jaxon was the glue that joined them all so quickly. He was precious playing with her and loving on her and she loved him from the moment they met.

Ready or Not, Here I Come

Checking Each Other Out

Together Forever

Jade and Jaxon – So Happy Together

Mother- Daughter Love

Having Fun

The next day was the official meeting with the Thai social services office. It was a formal interview where the adoptive families met with government officials to receive the final stamp of custody.

Thailand Child Adoption Center

After that was complete, all that was left to do was get her home to America. To do this, Jason and Jennifer took Jade to the US Embassy to apply for her Visa. Jade has a Thai passport, so she needed a US Visa to travel into the country. The process takes a few days, so they waited.

Sibling Fun

Sweet Jade Elizabeth

Hide and Seek in the Cabinets

Pat and Jade Playing 52 Card Pickup

With time to kill, in addition to lots of playtime at the hotel, we all managed a few outings. We found an elephant park not too far away and made a day trip to see elephants and watch the zoo shows. We went to the mall to eat and enjoy the air-conditioning. We walked to a nearby park and took the underground metro and skytrain to the weekend market. We even made a trip to the aquarium.

Family of Four at the Zoo

Holmeses at the Elephant Park

Jax Feeding Elephants

Jade and Alison at the Elephant Park

Siam Ocean World Aquarium, Bangkok

Pat and Jax in the Fisheye

Pat and Jason at the Aquarium Fish Spa

During all this time, Pat and I were able to have a lot of fun with Jax as well as with Jade and of course with Jason and Jennifer too. I don’t know if we really helped that much, but we sure loved the company and the joy experienced during such a remarkable life event. I can’t imagine a more perfect international adoption story and we are so grateful to have shared it with them.




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Category: Alison's Blog, Blog, Destinations, Featured Posts, Thailand

Comments (5)

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  1. Ben Blair says:

    GREAT TRIP you guys. Awesome ending. Can’t wait to talk to you about it.

  2. Vicki Cumpton says:

    This looks like such an amazing experience Jenn ! I had no idea there was ‘so much’ red tape to go through. By these lovely pictures, it looks like things went very smoothly ! Jade is absolutely beautiful and seems like she and Jax bonded very quickly ! Reading this made my heart swell, such a beautiful and touching story. It was so wonderful of your ‘new’ friends, Pat and Allison to walk this precious journey with you ! I’m sure having such good friends there with you during this time was very ‘comforting’! They sound like wonderful people ! I love looking these pics and reading all about your beautiful ‘love story’ with Jade ! What a beautiful family you are, she just seems to fit right in prefectly with You, Jason & Jax. Even though I don’t know Allison, she must be a very special person/and great friend to help see you guys through this ‘awesome’ transition <3. Her pics and story of your family are just beautiful !!! I am so glad everything went smoothly and worked out so prefectly for all of you. You have a beautiful family and are so 'truly blessed' <3 ! " I absolutely love your amazing story of Baby Jade". I could go on for hours about this 'beautiful story', but I will just say, "You guys are an inspiration and extremely blessed". Love & Prayers, Vicki Cumpton.

  3. taylor says:

    what a story! love you guys!!

  4. Kate from Phoenix says:

    Thanks for sharing. What a lucky little girl, although you can tell she already knows things have changed/are changing for her. It must be quite a shock, but it looks as if her new brother will be a big help to her. Nothing like a kid to provide what another kid needs.

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