I have been blessed with two children in my life. One grew in my belly, and the other grew in my heart. Despite the years that have passed, and the number of times that I've told this story, the events are still amazing to me - the way it all fell into place - the way that it was meant to be. The way that - well...the divine intervention of it all. But to fully understand how the puzzle all fit into place, I have to take you back a bit.
Back in 1981, my husband and I were expecting our first child. We were so excited. But our happiness was shortlived when in December of that year, right before Christmas, I miscarried. That was a tough year as we had to un-tell everyone that we were no longer pregnant. I was so sad. Depressed. About a month or two after the miscarriage, my mother called from work. She was working at the Armenian Church Diocese, and she had heard about a baby whose mother was ill and had passed away. The baby's father was distraught and didn't know how to care for the baby. Did we want to adopt? Adopt?! Us? Me? I never thought of that. I mean, yeah, that would be great...but now? Talk about bad timing! I just lost my baby. I wanted to be pregnant again. I wanted to have my own baby. Is that so wrong? No, I told my mom. I can't do it. I said no.
A year went by. Two years. Three years. I was the first of my friends to get married. But then slowly, my friends all got married after me....and all were getting pregnant now. I kept getting invited to baby showers. And at first they were great. But after a while, it just became too hard to go. I couldn't handle the questions, "When are you starting a family? What are you waiting for? Don't you want kids?" I knew people's questions were natural and good natured, but inside, it was too much to bear. Pretty soon, I made up excuses why I couldn't attend the showers...then the baptisms...and the first birthdays.
After about 4 years, my husband and I started thinking that we had better look into adoption because the reality was that conception might not happen. I contacted the county, looked into foreign adoptions, put our names on waiting lists. And we waited. And then about 2 years later, we got a call from L.A County. Our application was finally up for review!! We were so excited. We met with the case worker who was going to help us through the process. We filled out the applications. And then she said, "Now, once we start the process, if you pull out for any reason, your application will stay open for a year." I asked her, "After waiting so long, why would we pull out?" She said, "Well, if you get pregnant..." I laughed. "Right, I said....that's not going to happen." I didn't know it at that time, but I was pregnant!
At first I was a wreck. We were so nervous about miscarrying again that we decided not to tell anyone except immediate family (and my friend Laura, of course!) that we were expecting...until I was showing. I remember being 5 months pregnant and at a friend's wedding when we finally relaxed enough to share our joy. We put the adoption on hold....and in May of 1987, our daughter Ani was born! We were thrilled. And fell right into being parents. Parenthood was (and still is) a joy. And we embraced our mommy and daddy-ness and felt very, very blessed.
About the time Ani was 2, we started thinking about a second child. We each had grown up with siblings and thought how nice it would be if Ani had a sister or brother to grow up with. We were hoping to get pregnant again, but this time, I was open to adoption if it didn't work out. I called our case worker to get the process going again...but 2 years had gone by, so we had to start back several steps. But in the meantime, life was good enjoying our little girl.
Another year went by. I had been serving on the summer camp committee for our Diocesan church camp for a few years. The session of camp had come and gone, and so had the new year, and we were meeting to start work on the coming summer sessions. One of our discussions was always about what went well the previous year and then how we could improve. They discussed the busride back to the parishes...and then our chairman mentioned that there was a problem with a child not knowing who was going to pick him up at his parish. They had to call around. And it seemed that this child's father had been ill, and several families within the parish had offered to help during the father's illness. Hearing this broke my heart. The seed had been planted.
The following month we met again. This time it was at one of the classrooms in the St. Peter parish. We had taken a break for lunch, when a little boy came into our room, approached Sandy our committee chairman, and carried on a conversation with her. I really got a kick out of him. He was about 8 or 9. Wirey, short cropped hair and the biggest brown eyes I had ever seen. He was so at ease with the adults in the room. When he walked out, I asked Sandy about him. She said, "That's Nareg. He's the little boy we were talking about last month. His father's been ill, and he's been looking for someone to take care of him." She told me how friendly and good natured he was. A couple of the guys on the committee said he was "a handful" up at camp. So I asked further. And Sandy said to contact Deacon Hratch about him. That Nareg's father had asked Hratch to be the go-between. I couldn't believe my luck. Hratch was my brother's dearest friend. That afternoon after the meeting I went home and told my husband about the cute little boy. About Hratch. My original thinking was that maybe we could be the only family for this little boy. I didn't want him bouncing around between families. My initial thought was that we could be his go-to family when his father couldn't take care of him. So after dinner that night, I called my brother for Hratch's number....and gave him a call.
It seems that Nareg's father needed help with his son. He was older, a widow, and was doing the best that he could to raise his young son at the home of his father-in-law. His mother-in-law had been helping raise Nareg after his wife died, but recently she had passed away as well, and now it was these two men that were raising this very rambunctious little boy. One thing that was certain was that his father loved him very much. And it was because of that love that he wanted a family for his child. I talked to Hratch about my idea of being Nareg's extra family when needed. Hratch spoke to Nareg's father, and we arranged to meet him after church on Sunday and have him come home with us for a couple of days.
That Sunday after church, we met in one of the Sunday school classrooms. My husband, Ani and I. I remember walking in and there was Nareg with his dad along with Hratch. His father had packed Nareg's suitcase. We met, talked, and exchanged phone numbers. And Nareg came home with us to spend the week. And what a fun week it was. Nareg was very cute, and very knowledgable about all kinds of facts. I remember the first afternoon, having lunch on the patio. Mid-bite he put down his hotdog and said, "Did you know smoking causes lung cancer?" We thought this was pretty funny since neither my husband nor I smoked, so we didn't know where that came from. One thing I noticed was that he wasn't used to doing things together, as a family. We thought we'd take the kids to the Kidspace museum in Pasadena. As soon as we got there, Nareg was off! Climbing, running, spending time on his own, talking to other kids. He was very social. But he was also very gentle and sweet with Ani, who was 3 at the time.