28 October 2013

The Story of Nareg

What is the meaning of Divine Intervention?  Typically, divine intervention means God intervenes in the affairs of our world and/or our lives. Basically, whenever we pray then, we are asking God to intervene.  Last week I shared with you about the book I illustrated and the role that prayer played in it.  In the past, I've witnessed divine intervention many times on the streets of Skid Row when specific needs have been filled in front of our eyes.  And today, I wanted to share with you how divine intervention blessed me with a wonderful son.  My son Nareg.  

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.

We made sure that Nareg called home that night.  I could hear him telling his father about what we had done, where we had gone.  Afterward, I got on the phone to speak to his father as well.  And this went on for a few days, always ending with the two of us talking together before hanging up.  On the third night, Nareg's father brought up the possibility of us adopting Nareg....eventually.  When a child is 9 years old and close to his father, you cannot adopt and cut off ties with his biological father.   He told me that he couldn't bear that.  I could completely understand that.  We wouldn't want that for his father or for Nareg.  There was no rush, I told his father.  We could just continue on as is and see how things go.

It was July, and my father's birthday.  We had planned a family outing to the beach.  This was still the first week that Nareg was staying with us.  And my parents hadn't met him before.  My father loved kiteflying, so kites and kids in tow, we went to pick up my parents before heading out to Santa Monica.  As soon as we pulled up to Babajan and Mamajan's house, the kids raced out the car doors and up the steps to ring the bell.  My mom opened the door, Nareg said hello and ran in right past her, feeling totally comfortable.  My mom had a big smile on her face.  I had told my mom about the possibility of adoption over the phone.  She called Nareg over to her to meet him in person.  She hugged him and sent him over to Babajan and she turned to me and had tears in her eyes.  I said, "Isn't he cute?"  She looked at me and said, "He's come to you a second time.  He's meant to be yours."  I asked that she was talking about.  She said, "I know who this little boy is.  Remember 9 years ago when I asked you if you wanted to adopt.  You had just lost your baby.  You couldn't do it.  This is the same little boy...only 9 years later.  God wanted you to have him then.  You couldn't do it.  Now he's brought him to you a second time.  You have to say yes."

 That summer, Nareg spent the weekdays at our house, playing with the kids in the neighborhood and with Ani.  On Friday evenings we'd take him to his father's home and he'd spend the weekend with him until I picked him up after church to come home with us.  By the end of the summer, we asked his father if he'd like Nareg to enroll in school in our area.  In order to do so, we needed to become Nareg's legal guardians so we could sign paperwork for the school, deal with teachers and field trips.  We applied to be his foster parents, all with his father's consent.  The county came out and investigated us and we passed that hurdle. The entire time we never discussed adoption with Nareg.  If it happened, it would happen.  But for the time being, the situation was okay as it was.  And then one afternoon, I had come home from school, and my husband said, "Nareg has something he wants to ask you."  Nareg and Ani were both standing in the kitchen.  I asked what it was that he wanted to ask.  "Will you adopt me?"

And that's exactly how it happened.  The day of Nareg's adoption, we went to court with both Nareg and his father.  Together.  We met with the judge, we signed the papers, and then we celebrated by going out to breakfast together.  Nareg still continued to go visit his father on weekends.  It wasn't easy, but it was the right thing to do.   Nareg was the son that we always wanted.  And though in the beginning, Ani wasn't too thrilled because all her friends had baby brothers or sisters and she got a big one - I still remember her putting her hand on her hip and asking, "When's he going home!?" - the two of them grew close as brother and sister and are close to this day.

Sadly, a few years after the adoption, Nareg's father passed away.   I often think about him and how much he must have loved his son to make sure that he was loved, cared for, and placed with a family that could share his love.  He gave us a beautiful gift.

We are blessed by God to have such a wonderful son in our lives.  When I think back on how everything fell into place - I understand that it wasn't coincidence.  There was a divine hand in it.  Nareg needed a family and we needed a son to love.  

On this occasion of Nareg's anniversary of joining our family, I wanted to share this beautiful story that is a reminder to me, every day, of the blessings that God gives us.  Sometimes they come to us easily.  And sometimes we have to be hit over the head with them because we are resistant...but they are there nonetheless, ready for us when we are ready, and when we open our hearts to love.


Margaret Mgrublian said...

What a beautiful story, Anush. I remember Nareg's Father bringing him to Sunday School when he was very young, maybe 3 or 4. Eventhough I had no idea at the time what was happening in his life, I am overwhelmed at how all this transpired...Mamajan was right...you were meant to have him as your son. I'm just thrilled that we were fortunate enough to see Nareg grow into the wonderful man he's become. Sending all our love to you and the whole family as you celebrate this milestone. XOXO.

Susan said...

Thanks for sharing this koorig jan. I was moved to sweet tears with each word I read, reminding me of all the details that created these beautiful memories. Blessed are the works of divine intervention and the hearts ready to embrace them. Happy Nareg day. Love you and appreciate you sharing this celebration.

Bruce said...

WOW... such great memories. I couldn't finish reading but for my tears. you wrote what I feel with better words... thanks so much

Jean Muktarian said...

Oh my Anush, what a beautiful & heartwarming story! You have me in tears. I figured right away that Nareg was the baby that God wanted you to have. Thank you so much for sharing this and may God continue to Bless all of you.

Denise Hovsepian said...

Anush, God gave you Nareg and what a fine young man he is. Such a warm and friendly guy and I know that your care and nurturing was a huge part of the man he became today. May God Bless you and give you happiness in ten-fold for the wonderful care and memories that you gave Nareg for his up bringing.
Love to you and your family.

Ellen Tippit said...

I am typing this with tears running down my cheeks. What a beautiful and touching story. Mamajan was so right. Nareg coming to your family was meant to be. Thank you for sharing this blessing in your life. Sending you love and happiness to you and your family on this day of celebration.

Anonymous said...

OMG Anush Jan, your story touched my heart and remind me of God's work in sending Michael and Matthew into my life. I have the same mother and son relationship with my boy Matthew. I didnt carry him in my belly but I carry him in my heart. I never been married and I dont have kids and will not since I am on my late forties. But I feel that God rewarded me by sending Matthew to my life to experience the motherhood which I never had before. I am reading your story and start crying and thinking about my life with Matthew and how much he changed my life to the best. I love him and cant see my life without him. He became priority in my life. I have been taking care of him as a mommy since his birth. May God bless Nareg, Ani, Michael and Matthew and keeps us healthy to look after these wonderful children. Love you dear and thanks for sharing.

Knar Solakian said...

It is truly an incredible story. It takes a big heart to bring a child into a new home. You, Bruce, Ani and Nareg are lucky to have been brought together. Yes, it was meant to be. Nareg has been a pleasure to see grow up in our family. He's a great guy, it's been a win-win situation for all of us! Happy Nareg Anniversary!

Pomegranate and Eye said...

I loved reading all your comments throughout the week. Whether you know our son, shared your own story, or were moved by this story, I so appreciated your sharing and love. We are really blessed. Thank you for sharing in my blessing!