Saturday, February 13, 2016

Love Came to the Rescue

 This story is dedicated to all women who have had to make a choice. Faced with a crisis pregnancy and knowing you could not care for your baby…you made the most difficult, yet noble, decision any mommy could make. You placed your child into the arms of another mother.   

Halfway across the world in South Korea, a young woman was distraught when she discovered she was going to have a baby. Her boyfriend was ill-equipped to be a father and keeping the child seemed impossible. 

This girl’s mother was very supportive and assisted her daughter in the decision to give the child she carried up for adoption. The baby was brought to term and was born on 07/07/07. Isn’t seven God’s number of completeness and perfection? 

As you follow this story, it may seem so in the lives of those involved in this birth.

When the child was born, this mother held her little girl close to her heart and named her Sarang, meaning Love. 

Then this incredible woman did one of the noblest things anyone can do. She placed her child in the arms of another with her only comfort being she was giving her baby a chance at a better life, one she could never provide. 

Then walking away, she knew she would have that little one forever in her heart.  

Sarang was then placed in a nurturing foster home in Seoul with a mother and father who had children of their own.


Now on the opposite side of this earth in the town of Hendersonville, a bedroom community of Nashville, Tennessee, lived a handsome couple named Tara and Ken Tolbert who had a young son, Chandler. My husband and I are so proud to know and love Tara as our daughter, Ken, our son-in-law, and Chandler, our first born grandchild. 

This little family was very happy and spent their days filled to the brim with their son who, since pre-kindergarten, loved soccer. Tara and Ken spent many long hours supporting and encouraging Chandler on the soccer fields in addition to the other interests he pursued. Their lives were full and content.   

Eventually, though, all three began to yearn for an addition to their family. Much reflection resulted in the realization they wanted to adopt a child from another country. Chandler wanted a brother or a sister. As a family who had already experienced the rich rewards and blessings of having adoptees from abroad, Tara and Ken also wanted to go in the direction of their aunt and uncle.

My husband's sister, Peggy Blevins Baldock and her husband, Edd, had adopted two beautiful babies, Mary and Victoria, from China years prior.

Plus, Tara and Ken recalled having International students living in their home had been an excellent experience.

Thus the arduous task of the adoption process began.
It took over a year but finally, the endless piles of paperwork and office and home interviews were complete, and the wait began. Now all they could do was pray that God would bring to them the child who was a perfect match for their family. They also wanted to be a perfect match for the child who had needs they could meet.

Time seemed to crawl.Then one day the call came that there was a baby girl in South Korea who was four months old and needed a forever family. The agency shared some details, and an appointment was scheduled to review her file the following day.  

On Halloween 2006, there was the final signing of the papers and details were set in motion for Sarang to become their child! Over the next five months, more information about her first months of life with the foster family was made available, and a complete health history was laid bare along with the brief biography of the child's parents.

Not only were Tara, Ken, and Chandler thrilled, but our entire extended family were beside themselves with excitement and could not wait for Sarang's arrival.

The soon-to-be parents immediately began the preparations for The Homecoming. Tara launched a study of everything she could find regarding the Korean culture. In honor of the new baby’s arrival, a shower was a must. Deciding that Sarang should have a new name more conducive to her life in America, the fun began to choose one that Ken, Tara, and Chandler all agreed on. 

They finally fell in love with Ryleigh Emerson Tolbert. This name won out for many reasons, but the best was because the first, middle and last names all had seven letters; that number seven seemed such a perfect number.

After what seemed like forever, the BIG DAY finally arrived! Tara and Ken flew to Detroit, Michigan where a private escort brought Ryleigh from South Korea and placed her in the arms of her new mommy and daddy. Then a flight back to the Nashville airport was made where Granddaddy Tony and Nana Linda were there with Chandler, waiting eagerly to meet them. 

While waiting for the plane to land, the new big brother, then eleven years old, proudly held up his sign for his sister so she could see it when she came through the door. Those passing were stopping and asking the young boy about his sign. Chandler did not hesitate to tell them who was flying in to meet him. With pride, I held my sign high as well.


The overwhelming joy when Tara and Ken walked through that airport door with Ryleigh in their arms was indescribable. That little tyke, as she approached, was flashing a smile so dazzling it lit up her entire face. Ryleigh also threw that smile to everyone passing by as her new family members stood oohing and ahhing over her. Her raven black hair, coal black eyes and skin tone were shockingly beautiful; she also boasted such a beautiful bone structure.

Our family quickly returned to Hendersonville to introduce this precious baby to her new home and the welcome party awaiting her.  When this precious baby saw the decorated living room, that smile never left her face as her eyes gazed at the balloons, signs, and flowers.

And then Mommy, Daddy, and big brother were able, after what seemed a lifetime, to start that first day of loving and living with the answer to their prayers. They even blessed Nana and Papaw by letting us share in their love.


Our precious Ryleigh comfortably settled in and immediately began to thrive.

And she grew by leaps and bounds.


As she grew physically, we began to see more of her other delightful traits.


Ryleigh rapidly became a treasure and delight to both her parents, her brother and her extended family who understood how blessed we were she had been woven into our tapestry of life.

Ryleigh today has a charming personality and early on showed she was a very affectionate child. She is now eight-years-old and has two favorite toys, her two cousins, Savannah, age seven and Emmett, nine, and the three are inseparable. The parents of these two cousins are always more at ease when their kids are under the 'protective' oversight of Ryleigh. 

It is because Ry is known to be more cautious by nature, levelheaded and she instinctively draws respect from both of her buds. It is also well established that this child has been known to pull the other two back from the brink when they devise a wild scheme. 


Never shy, kindergarten and each subsequent grade have been easy for this young breath of fresh air, and Tara and Ken have shared that making friends comes as natural to her as breathing. Tara observed this stems from Ryleigh's big smile, confidence and her love for all.  

Showing love for cute clothes from an early age, dressing up and striking poses delighted this kid!  The time finally came when her mom asked if she had an interest in modeling. Ohhhhh yes! So an agent was secured, and doors have been opened for modeling and commercials through her agent and other venues.  Each audition, whether she lands the gig or not, brings great life lessons in which her parents feel far exceeds any role.   

Has this hobby turned my granddaughter into a prima donna? Not hardly. Ryleigh also enjoys coming up to Misty Hollow and wearing mud with her Nana.

From an early age, dancing and singing have been a delight to that young soul of hers. As always, her mom and dad want her to at least have the opportunity to try in any appropriate endeavor she chooses. If she fails, she will learn from it. If she doesn't, she will learn from that as well. That had been Tara, and Ken's creed with Chandler and the same applies to their daughter.

Getting to dance with the Nashville Ballet in their rendition of 'The Nutcracker' at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center was thrilling for the entire family when the notification came that our dancer made the final cut. The Blevins' clan all drove to Nashville to see her in her performance, another great life experience.  


 As an eight-year-old, this kid's favorite shows are Cupcake Wars and anything on HGTV. She loves to go in the kitchen and pull out all her mother's cooking utensils and ingredients and concoct something delicious. Ryleigh loves to work on various home projects as well.

And recently our little go-getter decided she would like to pursue theater and she joined a company a few weeks ago. Ryleigh just learned she would have a solo in an upcoming production.   

My goodness, this child has showered a lot of happiness upon our family, and we are all blessed as a result of her being a part of us. It is a miracle to see Tara, Ken, and Chandler and their lives with Ryleigh and her's with them.

Now. You may have wondered why I let you take a peek into the two different worlds of the two families I have laid before you today. The story of each is true; the heartbreak and joy are both real as well.

But please listen, my friends. I would have failed miserably in my writing if you were unable to grasp there are no babies in this world who are unwanted. 

Millions of mommies and daddies are out there somewhere praying for Ryleigh's and Raylan's, Victoria's and Mary's. It just takes courage for the women in that crisis pregnancy who realizes she cannot keep her child to open her heart, reach out and let go, just like that precious young woman in South Korea. 

Without her, our baby would not now be in the arms of this forever grateful mommy.