A year ago today…this tiny little baby chose us.
It happened within a day. A phone call, a trip to the hospital and then we began this journey, all over again…
It was a regular day, both David and I were at work and the daughter had just returned home from kindergarten. I was in a long-drawn meeting when I received a missed call from an adoption agent whom I had contacted months back. We had prayed for an open door to adopt a sibling for Dana since 4 years ago but it somehow didn’t materialize. Until the phone call…The adoption agent had mistaken me for another client of hers but since I was already on the line, she informed me that there was a local Chinese newborn boy up for adoption. He was only 3 days old and if we agree to the adoption costs, we can meet the baby that very night.
I was euphoric. Finally, a baby up for adoption and he might be ours! I couldn’t believe the news and made a few urgent calls to the husband. I couldn’t reach him initially as he was in a meeting so I texted him. When we eventually connected, we both felt the peace of God to proceed. I rang the agent up to say we want the baby but we were told he has already been promised to a Caucasian expat couple. I was devastated.
David excused himself from meeting to call the agent personally, offering a higher price for the baby but she declined. However, she did say that she was checking some ‘technical details’ with the couple. She advised him to leave things to ‘fate’ and see if the baby ‘chooses’ us. Some eternity later, she called back. It turned out that due to citizenship and immigration issues, the Caucasian couple was not eligble to adopt a Singaporean baby so the offer is in our courts again. Of course we said YES!
It was about 8:30pm in the evening, with an excited big sister Dana in tow, we met the agent at the food court of our local maternity hospital, and held little Alexander in our arms for the first time. He was asleep, quietly. We looked at him, looked at each other and we knew he is ours. That night, he chose us and we brought him home.
However, it has been 6 years since we last had a baby in the house so we had close to nothing for the baby’s arrival. The romantic notion of having a newborn soon gave way to more practical panic! No diapers, no sterilizers, no milk bottles, no pacifier, no baby bath accessories, no baby car seat…nothing! But God sent us help in the form of close friends who rejoiced with us and sprung into action. Within the same night, a couple dropped off pacifiers and some baby clothes; some others couriered sterilizers, baby bath tub, playmat and other essentials over in the next few days. We were very moved. God moves mountains.
The next few months saw us struggling to cope with a newborn who had been suddenly dropped into our lap, literally. To make matters worse, there were adoption paperwork and red tape to take our time and attention away from the baby. My employer was gracious enough to allow me to take a few weeks of adoption leave to help ease Alexander into the home after we had obtained the initial adoption court order but still, it was very tough juggling work and a feisty newborn concurrently.
Over the weekend, we threw a party to celebrate Alexander turning 1. We wanted to keep it cosy but meaningful – as much as it is to celebrate the milestone of Alexander’s 1st year with us, it is more so to acknowledge and appreciate the many friends who had rallied around us in this adoption process.
As with every birthday celebration, we had to decide on a venue first. We knew we would be away for our family holiday, returning only few days before the party so the venue had to be a fuss-free yet located in a centralised location for the convenience of our guests. Eat, Play, Love Cafe came to mind. We had attended several media events there and like the art corners for kids to doodle and craft. I was keen in having a dessert table for the party and saw from its FB album that its dessert tables were very decent. The packages were affordable too. So one evening after work, the family headed down to the cafe and placed our booking. Tristan, the restaurant manager was an affable and seasoned party planner. He assured us the party will be well-executed and it did.
On the party day, we dressed up, turned up at the cafe an hour earlier as hosts to see the Eat, Play, Love team fussing over the decor, the dessert table setup and catering food arrangements. Among the parties that we’ve thrown, this was the most ‘hands-free’ one. We were able to mingle with our guests and enjoy their company. I secretly thanked God for giving me the wisdom to out-source this party. The guests loved the food, the relaxed ambiance and the dessert table. I finally understood why the cafe was such a popular venue for parties.
We needed a cake to be the centrepiece of the dessert table. We couldn’t be happier when Cake Avenue‘s boss agreed to bake Alexander’s 1st Birthday Cake for us. And it wasn’t gonna be any simple cake. When he saw the invitation card, he offered to bake us a 3 tier chocolate raspberry cake which could feed 60-80 pax, decorated in fondant according to the ‘Woodland Animals’ theme. We left the design entirely to the Cake Avenue team and when the cake was delivered to the cafe that morning, I gasped. It was gorgeous! Our guests complimented that it was one of the most yummy fondant cakes they have ever tasted. The cake was moist and delicious and we were pleased when guests asked for a second helping.
THE DESSERT TABLE
We chose the ‘Deluxe Package’ Dessert Table which was the most luxurious of the lot and the cafe handled everything. The dessert spread was delectable (one of the better tasting dessert buffets offered at birthday parties!): on the table were mini chocolate cupcakes, walnut carrot cakes, apricot cheesecakes, honey mango macarons, double choc macarons, kit kats, cookies, marshmallows, lollipops, jellybeans and more. And they were all jazzed up with toppers in our Woodland Animals theme. That’s not all, after the birthday cake cutting, all our guests were served a bowl of yummy Thai Coconut ice-cream with nata de coco. You would be forgiven if for a second, you think we were in dessert heaven.
Even though there were art activities for children at the cafe, I wanted to bless our little guests with some memorable party entertainment. I corresponded with Alicia of Happier.SG and was struck by her philosophy of genuinely wanting to spread joy and happiness to the children. That day, she performed ‘magic’ like a fairy godmother granting the little girls and boys their wishes – painting effortlessly on their faces and arms and then twisting the most amazing balloon sculptures for them upon request. She made our little guests feel over the moon. When she heard that we need a balloon sculpture to accompany the dessert table, she made this huge 1.5m balloon tower sculpture which we managed to lug home and recycle for our family party the following day. Truth to be told, we have never met a party entertainer who can engage children so well as Alicia does. She speaks to each of them as if they were the most important people she has ever met. The kids sensed her genuineness and were swarming around her throughout the party. She was so incredibly popular that when time was up, the kids were reluctant to let her go!
THE BIRTHDAY FAVORS
Every child expects a birthday favor when they attend a birthday party and I wouldn’t want them to go home empty-handed. For Alexander’s birthday favors, I liaised with MuaKids to print customised name labels and bag tags for each of our little guests. The parents loved the favors and commented they are useful. To ‘dress up’ the favors, David and I sourced around for a suitable ‘bag’ for packaging. We found these eco-friendly jute bags from Art Friend of the perfect size and added a personalised favor tag to go with each. Loved how it matches our Woodland Animals theme too!
THE BLESSING OF ADOPTION
When Buddy first came, we were undecided what to name him. In the end, we chose ‘Alexander’ which means ‘ Defender of men‘. It is our prayer that he will grow up to be a strong, health and godly boy; one who will defend the weak and stand for what is right. We count it our honour to be chosen as his earthly parents and we pray for God’s continual wisdom and favor to lead us as we parent Dana and him. We thank God for blessing us with this new life, which was only made possible through the gift of adoption. To our friends and family who rooted for us and stood in the gap, we are eternally grateful. Thank you for being part of our journey. May God bless you many folds in return.
To God be the glory.
Useful Party Contacts:
1st Year Milestone ChalkBoard
Etsy: Red Barn Design Studio
Disclaimer: We wish to express our sincere thanks to these sponsors for contributing to the success of Alexander’s 1st Birthday Party: Cake Avenue SG for the cake, MuaKids for the birthday favors and HappierSG for the Face Painting, Balloon Twisting and the huge Owl Balloon Sculpture. The kids were dressed smartly in clothes by Fox Fashion (Singapore).