A Monday in May 2008 was what I refer to as THE STARBUCKS SUMMIT. This day is one of the most unique in my life and in our adoption story. Our lawyer asked us to meet with him over lunch to wait for her grandmother's bus to arrive and we would then meet her for the first time. During lunch he tried in vain to explain to us what the Thai legal system expected of us and what procedures we should be preparing for. His lack of English and our lack of understanding the Thai way lead to a lot of gray area for us.
After lunch, his wife--who was with us--jumped up from the table, took Deer, and walked to the bus station to get Grandma. After awhile we too left the restaurant with Kuhn Joe. When we emerged from the restaurant I saw his wife across the street walking back from the bus station with Grandma. Kuhn Joe said, "We go to Starbucks now. We'll meet her at Starbucks."
In my mind I was thinking, "Starbucks?! Are you serious? This sweet and very poor woman who is fresh off the bus from the sticks of Thailand is going to have to go to Starbucks with us crazy westerners? We're going to subject her to the audacity of Starbucks while we ask her if she would mind if we adopt her granddaughter? This seems like a really bad venue for a really important question." But what could we do? We, clearly, were not in control.
From across the street I could see that Grandma had indeed endured some hard years. Her frame was bent, her build was slight, her teeth were gone. I was filled with compassion. Rebekah's next older half-sister had made the journey with her. She seemed like a healthy, sweet, shy Thai teenager.
In we all walked to Starbucks. What a strange crew. Kuhn Joe asked Grandma what she wanted to drink. She, of course, looked at him bewildered. Did he think she would say, "Oh I'll take a tall skinny latte, no foam." She was probably wondering why one coffee cost the same as seven average Thai meals combined. Kuhn Joe looked at me and said, "Buy everyone frappaccinos." Okay. Whatever you say. And so I did. I was insanely nervous.
We sat down and Kuhn Joe began to ease his way into revealing why we were all sitting there together. It was all in Thai, but I'm hopeful that he described us, our calling from God, our desire to give Deer the best life that we could, and then I'm thinking he gently probed her for her thoughts on the matter.
She said very, very few words during the whole meeting. She didn't make too many facial expressions either. Mark and I had no way of reading the situation. Thankfully, Hannah, in her stroller made for some helpful comedic interludes.
Ultimately, Grandma seemed happy and willing to agree. She didn't make a big show of emotion, but nodded her head as if to say okay. We snapped a few photos, breathed a sigh of relief, and prayed silently that she really understood what we wanted.
We also prayed silently that she wouldn't change her mind or that she wouldn't use this opportunity to bribe us. Bribery in Thailand is as common as getting a physical. Everyone does it once a year or so. It's expected. It's everywhere. We were truly concerned about that for the entire three years it took to bring Deer home. But, Grandma never tried it and neither did anyone else, thank God.
The Starbucks Crew: Hannah, Jen, Grandma, Deer, Deer's Half-Sister, Mark, and Kuhn Joe. I now see that Kuhn Joe is holding a wad of cash in his hand...
Hannah is doing her best not to lose her mind in this one.
That night our friends Dave and Shirley sweetly hosted Deer's family for the night. Deer chose to stay with us, which was wonderful once again. We tried to get some rest as we anticipated another make it or break it moment the next day--the interview with the Chiang Mai Juvenile Court Social Worker, who was the gate keeper to the court.