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Our Deepest Gladness

With all the kids tucked in their car seats, I began pulling my car out of the drive way on this extra warm November day, and I realized I had forgotten a water bottle for myself.  Oh shoot, I thought, but there was nothing I could do about it now.

“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.

***
“The place God calls us to is the place where your deepest gladness and the world’s deepest hunger meet.” -Frederick Beuchner
Deepest gladness

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.

remember me

 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? 😉

But mostly, 

 ***
Most days I can’t believe that the week before we left to go pick up our kids, that we emailed Reece’s Rainbow and told them that we were fully funded so take down our donation spot.  Seriously, how did that even happen?  Of all families, we must have been the least of all who qualified, and here we were.  I mean that as an encouragement, because it’s not just us.  I know it may be scary when you first think about it, but God is serious about adoption, and he’s serious about the kids he loves, and if you don’t believe me, read it over and over again in his book.  “Feed my sheep,” “Love the least of these,”  “Love others as yourself,” is what he pretty much says is the point of it all.  Then, as it turns out, it ends up being the biggest blessing of your life, cause guess what, he really loves you too, so much, and he’ll help you.  And when he says he came to bring you abundant life, he meant it, but not in the ways you might think at first.  But in rich hearts, full arms, sweet days filled with love, joy, purpose and every other thing that people seek after constantly, literally in your own little home.
Our deepest gladness.
“The place God calls us to is the place where your deepest gladness and the world’s deepest hunger meet.” -Frederick Beuchner
As I put away her laundry, “Thank you, mama!”

If you are generous with the hungry
    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.
Isaiah 58: 9-12
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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Lou November 26, 2012, 2:33 pm

    A lovely post Amy and fantastic photos. The difference in just this short time is astounding, and it is lovely to see all of you so happy and so obviously a tightly bound family 🙂

  • daniellem02 November 26, 2012, 2:42 pm

    What a beautiful post! Maybe someday I get through a post without crying….prob not though hahaha

  • Kate November 26, 2012, 3:49 pm

    I’m not exactly sure what my favorite part of this post was – but I think it is

    “And then I was all like….”

    boom.

  • Grace November 26, 2012, 6:59 pm

    I just wanted to tell you that you are truly a gifted writer! And as always, your family is beautiful.

  • Leah November 26, 2012, 8:57 pm

    Welp, this was heartbreakingly beautiful. Thanks for making me cry at work. XP

  • J November 26, 2012, 9:58 pm

    Beautiful and touching! thank you so much for sharing!! <3 Can't wait until our little guys is home~ your journey is strengthening us in ours! xo

  • kate November 26, 2012, 10:28 pm

    I adore the swing picture.

    My daughter came home at 6 1/2. Her face was filled with wonder and EVERYTHING she saw was proclaimed “so beautiful”–construction on the freeway to the angel in Palace Square.

    This summer I took a picture of her seeing Clydesdales for the first time–and the same wonder was there.

    I wish I could share these pictures with you so you could see.

    I have two books for you to find in the library!

    “Loving” by Ann Morris
    “Piglet and Mama” by Margaret Wild

    I think Maria will love these books. We have read them to pieces here!

  • MamaFoster November 27, 2012, 3:20 am

    I love reading your beautiful story. I know you are busy mothering these beautiful kids, but if you get a chance I would love to know where to start in finding that beautiful dark haired little girl….please email me at mamatofoster@gmail.com

  • Cherbos November 27, 2012, 7:59 am

    To see Maria becoming the Daddy’s girl she was always meant to be..dressed as the princess that she is(I love how she seems to be picking all the fancy dresses to wear first! So sweet!)..To see ‘Lijah’s face lose that pinched look and his eyes sparkle..And Finley’s arms wrapped tight around his new brother and sister…All of these things make my heart swell with happiness for you and Andrew! I am not as eloquent with words like you are, so I cannot fully express my joy in seeing all these pictures of your first week. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing them with us. I cannot wait to show your post to my 12 year old daughter when she gets home from school. 🙂 We read your blog together, and we both have been praying for you and your family. We are so happy for you all!

  • Nanami November 27, 2012, 11:02 am

    What a beautiful family do you have! My biggest dream is to be able to adopt soon, so seeing a young couple like you with such a blessing of family really encorauges me, too : )I dont have the best job, the best home and Im not the most qualified person but I think love is what matter the most! congrats again! your girl seems soo happy and the little one seems to be healthier and bigger in so little time!

  • Sarah November 27, 2012, 6:48 pm

    Amy, I can really relate to your feelings of thinking about the ones left behind. We adopted our son from the USA. Whenever someone I know has a baby, it makes me a little sad because it makes me think of my son’s birth day. Nobody took pictures of him; his birth mom was pretty alone.

    It makes me think about other babies and moms in hospitals out there, really alone, like this one:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/11/out-of-the-shelter-how-one-homeless-teenage-mother-built-a-life-of-her-own/265110/

  • Molly November 27, 2012, 7:34 pm

    Every time your blog pops up in my reader I am so happy! I just can’t wait for updates of your family. Like I’ve said before, it gives me hope. Those beautiful babies stuck in those cribs. I wish I could go get every single one of them! It hurts my heart.

  • Kym November 27, 2012, 7:49 pm

    So sweet 🙂 a wonderful post! i love seeing so much LOVE in these pictures.

  • Kathleen November 27, 2012, 9:03 pm

    I love this!! Absolutely beautiful! I would love to adopt, but we don’t meet the financial requirements. 🙁 Blessings to your family!

  • The Kids November 28, 2012, 2:27 am

    Hi Amy! The children who are left behind… are they listed with an agency? What are their special needs? Who can we contact if we’d like to get more information? Thank you!

  • H and D November 28, 2012, 7:26 pm

    I found your blog for the first time on Gotcha Day. LOVE your story! Keeps making me cry.

    I’d love to know what agency you guys went through. We’re trying to choose one now. Thank you!

  • The Shepherds November 28, 2012, 9:15 pm

    I cannot get over the joy and beauty of your daughters smile! Thank you for inspiring me. We are adopting a 5-yr-old boy from China with limb differences. Thank you for sharing. I need the inspiration.

  • Kimberly November 29, 2012, 6:30 pm

    Oh, how you make my heart smile. :)<3

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