After a tiring grocery store run, Lauren Casper was trying to hurry out of the store as fast as she could.
“Sweat beads were forming on my forehead, caused in part by my embarrassment, but mostly from the heat and amount of energy I was exerting by running through Trader Joe’s with my 18 pound baby strapped to my chest and my toddler year old screaming behind me,”
Lauren wrote in a blog post on her website laurencasper.com.
Her husband John, a pastor, was pushing the cart with her toddler son Mareto while she had her baby daughter Arsema in a baby carrier. Lauren said she felt her family is more conspicuous than most because they are white parents with two kids from Ethiopia.
“Our son has noticeable developmental delays and different behaviors caused by his autism, and our daughter has physical differences with her missing and webbed digits,” Casper wrote. “In other words, when we all go out together we stand out.”
Casper said she was close to breaking down in tears as they rushed out of the store when she heard a woman call out to her. She hoped she wasn't about to get unwanted advice. She turned to see the woman, in a Trader Joe's store uniform, walking towards her.
“A bright smile covered her face and I immediately noticed her beautiful black curls, just like the black curls snuggled on my chest, tickling my chin,” Casper wrote.
What happened next has changed her life, she said.
“I just wanted you to have this bouquet,” the woman said while handing Casper some flowers. “I was adopted as a baby and it has been a wonderful thing. We need more families like yours.”
The Caspers adopted Mareto after learning Lauren couldn't carry a child following two miscarriages. After researching domestic adoption, they heard something about adopting in Ethiopia and said it felt like “a light bulb went off.”
“As soon as (Lauren) mentioned it, I was like, 'That's it,’ ” John said in a short film made about their family's adoption story. “I know that that's right.”
Their application was accepted and seven months later, they brought home their son Mareto. After his first birthday, they looked into adoption in Ghana when a Facebook post about a baby girl in Ethopia with webbed and missing fingers and toes caught Casper's eye.
“I just read the stats, and thought, 'That's my girl,’ ” Casper said.
Casper was stunned the store employee took time and money to thank her, even in the midst of a meltdown in the store.
“On a day when I felt like we were the worst example of family … a day when I hoped no one noticed us … she did,” Lauren wrote. “But she didn’t see what I assumed everyone was seeing. She didn’t think what I assumed everyone was thinking.”
Lauren's post has gone viral on Facebook this week after being featured on themighty.com,today.com and The Huffington Post. She said in an email that she thinks it's resonating with people because it's easy for parents to relate to.
"All moms have days like the one I had, and we all hope that someone goes out of their way to show us a little grace,” Casper said in an email. “I was fortunate enough to experience that kindness and that warms people's hearts and gives us hope for humanity.
“I just hope it encourages other people to assume the best of others and to go out of their way to show love, not just this holiday season, but all year-long. There's always more to the story than what we see.”
To read more about the Caspers' adoption story, visit laurencasper.com.