“Mama,” I heard, and looked at Maria, who was pulling out the water bottle she had filled, and then packed for me. And pulled one out for herself as well. Oh my…
I recently shared with a friend how on paper, our adoption of her seemed like the worst idea ever. No older siblings for her to play with, one income, our tiny apartment, our ages, our lack of funds, and on forever…
As she handed me my water bottle, we cheers-ed after I thanked her for her sweet heart, and thanked God, yet again, for my precious children he somehow gave us enough bravery to pursue, and enough grace to deserve.
As we curved around the road, and passed a group of trees, her eyes saw a huge lagoon, sparkling in that bright, afternoon sunlight, “Woooow, mama!” she whispered as she pointed at the beauty, bouncing in her seat. “Wow,” I said, realizing how beautiful it truly is.
I heard Elijah start to fuss in the back seat, not quite used to car seats just yet. “Finley, honey, will you sing a little song for your brother, he is sad.”
‘Lijah, A B C D, E EFF Geeeee! H I LMNOP! How much da, dohhh-gey in dah window!” and sweet singing until Finley said, “Mama, sleeping! Baby sleeping!”
“Oh thank you honey, that was so sweet. You made him feel all better.”
“ALL BETT-O!” he said, happily.
I am so proud of Finley, and how this adoption is changing him. He is growing up and learning, and able to do new things each day, sometimes through toddler tears, but good fruit is emerging, and for that I am thankful–so many hidden blessings. In the beginning, our once only child suffered from what I call, ‘toy blindness’ where every single toy in the whole world was instantly invisible, except for the toy Maria or Elijah was holding. But with the presence of his siblings, he is learning to wait, to share, to play and to be so much more grown up, even compassionate. He is seriously such a different boy in a weeks time.
Most nights at dinner, we laugh so hard we can’t catch our breath. “And then mama, we went down to the corner of the yard and found a big, big lizard!” Papa will tell me of their time, while Maria, biggest grin on her face, nods enthusiastically, eyebrows high like, ‘can you believe it, mama?! giggles escaping her lips constantly. I can’t help but to start laughing, really laughing, and she starts laughing, throwing her head back, and then Finley, who has no idea what’s going on is doing his deep-voiced giggle, usually food in his mouth staring at Maria, while Papa joins in too–I love seeing my husband laugh. This girl is teaching me so much about joy.
|Helping Papa collect firewood|
The doctor’s first piece of advice to us was to fatten them up, which is unbelievably fun, and the opposite of everything we did with Finley. Butter, snacks, desserts, muffins, candy, pediasure, cake, bacon, pancakes, seconds, thirds, etc. “How fun is it to doctor up kids,” Andrew asked me today over lunch.
As each day passes with Elijah, I feel like a veil is lifting off his face, and the sweetest, gentlest boy is being revealed before our very eyes, into our arms and our hearts and into the world.
He is the ideal baby, the one we all dream about when we are pregnant, but then we end up with our precious screaming, demanding infant. He is calmed to smiles with a touch, could be held and rocked for hours, delighted by anything, especially the sight of you.
|30 seconds after rocking him, every time…|
He is so new at this whole family thing, but he knows he likes it. Recently, when I reach my hands out to him, he becomes so eager to come to me, he lunges and tries his best, sometimes clinging onto me in the funniest ways, like around my forearm. This is a boy who knows he loves mama, but doesn’t have all the practice yet, but soon enough. His once serious face is now alive, his once solemn heart is filled with giggles, this once sleepy boy is filled to the brim with life, exploration and contentment. Gone are the days of fear of hunger, of yelling in fright. Rubbing his back used to be like a xylophone along his ribs, and now he is fuller, softer. The stiff baby, not used to being held in arms, is now melt in your arms cuddly. Oh my, how I long for those in his orphanage to know the feeling of being rocked to sleep by a mama, to know the feeling of being tickled by papa, of their needs being met, of being loved by relatives, friends and siblings. To have full bellies and full hearts.
One of the millions of things this experience has taught us, is how small this earth really is. On our first trip, we literally flew all the way around the earth; over America, Canada, Atlantic, Scandinavia, Europe to Russia, then home over Asia, the Pacific and home, all while sipping tea, and watching a couple movies. It’s crazy to me how close people, and children who seemed so out of reach really are. And how within reach “those poor babies” are to being in your arms, and being helped.
As my children learn and grow and become new people with each passing day within our family, our super random, nothing spectacular family, my mind can’t help but go back to the ones left behind, who for them, this is another day of ashes. Another day of forgotten.
Another day of alone.
And as I watch the children, alive and well in our living room, I realize how all children want the same things, no matter where they live and where they are from. They want to sing and dance, to have a mama and papa, to be tucked in at night, and if something scares them, to have someone to call to who cares.
Recently, someone told me,
“Oh no, I wouldn’t want to do international adoption, I wouldn’t want to deprive a child of their culture…”
And I was all,
But really, we were like;
|Check out those thigh rolls, where did those chicken legs go? 😉|
|As I put away her laundry, “Thank you, mama!”|
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.