Scott Grainger ’94

Colonel, USAF; Professor of Aerospace Studies; Commander, AFROTC Detachment 695

Scott GraingerWhat a year this has been. We had a college graduation, a high school graduation, a house purchase (sight unseen), and an international move from Japan back to the Pacific Northwest, which preceded changing jobs for both me and my wife. All of this occurred throughout the ebb and flow of the COVID-19 pandemic. As crazy as all that was, the most significant thing to happen to us was the adoption of our son from Taiwan. Under normal circumstances, adoptions are a challenging process; 2020 took that to a whole new level.

We began our adoption journey in 2016 shortly after moving to Okinawa, Japan. We followed the typical process for international adoptions, though ours was complicated by being a military family and having lived in 12 different homes over the past 26 years. In 2019, we were matched to our 6-year-old son, and in January 2020 we were finally able to bring him home. We traveled from Taiwan to Okinawa on January 17, the same day as the first case of COVID-19 came to Taiwan. Whew, we were lucky.

We felt extremely fortunate that my wife and I were both given paid time off to bond with our son, as well as continue the lengthy, bureaucratic process of establishing his citizenship in the United States. My wife and son took a quick trip to Guam, the closest US port of entry, in early February to fulfill his Visa requirements. Shortly after their return to Okinawa, COVID severely restricted travel. Again, we felt very lucky.

After a few more weeks of bonding, he slowly eased into attending kindergarten. Serendipitously, there was a native Taiwanese counselor at our school, which facilitated his transition. He started with one hour per day for the first week, half days for the next week, then full days. But after only one week of in-person school it all went online. He finished the school year like most students, through a mixture of online classes and homeschooling, alongside his sister who finished her senior year in the same manner.

There were a lot of obstacles thrown into our path this past year: work was more challenging, travel was infinitely more complicated, going about daily activities took added effort. I could go on and on. Through it all, though, I am so thankful. We moved back to the US, close to our family, for the first time in our careers. Our son was accepted into a local Chinese immersion school, and even though he’s not attending in person yet, school has been really good for him.

Has 2020 been easy? Absolutely not, but through it all, I’ve found so many reasons to be thankful. There are countless people who have gone out of their way to help us in our adoption process. I’ve had more and different opportunities to connect with our son than I otherwise would have.

Who knows what the next year holds, but I go into it with the same hope and enthusiasm for a new year that I always have, along with a newfound perspective on just how fortunate I am.