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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Same Kind of Different

When we landed in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, Brian and I were literally the only white people in the airport. And so it began. The thousand differences between me and well....everything else.

The smells were different -- strong and pungent. The sounds were different -- a strange language and trilling tongues going a mile a minute. The music loud and dissonant. The sights were like a flashback in a movie -- scene change after scene change -- some understandable, most not. The kind you hope to understand at the very, very end, but then still don't.

I lost weight because the food was so different -- the bread spongy, the drinks warm, the stew mushy, the coffee harsh. I was so anxious that much of the time I didn't even want to eat, even though the smiling strangers kept shoving tray after tray of native food before me.

I found myself so overwhelmed at times that to keep from succumbing to a meltdown of tears, I had to take my mind to another place. I had to disconnect emotionally to keep from losing it entirely.

When strangers hugged me, I was not really comforted.

I wanted to go home.

I wanted my mom.

As crazy as it sounds, I am so thankful I had that experience. It gave me the tiniest glimpse of what our son will experience when he comes home. I was there one week and fought back tears on a regular basis. What would it be like if I could never go back to what I knew?

Only God knows how long it will take for our little guy to experience his new life with joy. Having a taste of that "same kind of different" may be the most important key to loving him well.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Day We Met

Think about the day you saw your newborn for the first time. Nine-month pregnancy and a few black and white sonograms as some kind of preparation. Then add a three-year pregnancy and a few across-the-world photos to that anticipation. We had no idea really what to expect when we met our little guy.

They brought us into the toddler room -- 15 kids and 4 nannies. We were able to spend two hours there. (Imagine being a sub in two services of Sunday school with toddlers.)  Then imagine that room with no toys and no chairs. NO chairs. That means no rocking chairs. Turns out that's not an Ethiopian thing...rocking chairs. Huh. The drapes were closed, the lights weren't on, the floors were bare...only little toddler-like beds.

At first, the nannies brought our little guy to us, standing him before us like an offering. At the same time, another little boy ran up to us, we thought for a big hug, since his hands were outstretched. Turns out, he smacked our cheeks rather hard with both hands.  Huh. When the nannies scolded him, he sat down at the end of the bed frame and began to just bang his head over and over again. Disturbing enough as it was, the nannies didn't rush to stop that action. Huh. One little boy sat off in the corner and just watched everything. Not crying. Not laughing. Not playing. Not engaging. Still others reached up for us to hold them and play with them and make them laugh the entire time.

Little Man was somewhere in between. At first, he just stood there looking at us. Intensely. No tears, no frown, no smile. Just looking. The cartoon bubble over his head might have said, "Who are you? Why are you here? And, why do you keep looking at me with a hyena-like smile that looks like you're ready to eat me whole?"

It was at least 30 minutes before they brought us a ball -- the universal language of little boys. (Big boys too!)

Then the smile came. Tentatively and not often, but it was there. He never cried when we picked him up, but he never laughed either. I wish I'd gotten it on video, but Brian does this whispery-thing to babies and when he did it while holding our little guy, that sweet smile came again and again.

Here's a clip of his amazing left-foot kick. You'll see some other little ones that we would've walked out with if they'd let us. Fortunately, we were told, most of them have forever families waiting to take them home soon.

Day One: that's what Little Man thinks. For us, it was day 1,095 going on a lifetime.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More Socks to Come!

I'm leaving six precious feet in the care of loved ones, while Brian and I travel to the other side of the world to say to a judge, "Yes!  We'll take another pair, please."  Think of how many more socks I get to add to our sack! By the grace of God and his perfect timing, I have a few minutes to write.

It's been three years and one month since we sent our first set of documents in to get this adoption started. And today we fly. There were definitely times of frustration at the lengthy process, but we've learned so much about ourselves, our birth children and the time in preparation has proved invaluable.  We needed every second to live the life God set before us.

My close friends know how adept I am at hiding my anxieties. However, I can only do that up to a certain point, then I begin to pace ruts in the floor!  So, as soon as the news of our court date came, I notified a handful of people who have clearly been praying their own little socks off for me.  What an incredible peace. We ONLY had a week's notice, yet it seemed like plenty of time as things fell into place for the kids and our packing and all the thousand details that must come together for such a thing.

I have my moments, of course. Like when my sweet hubby is on a conference call in his pajamas without having packed a stitch two hours before we're to leave for the airport. Deep breathes as he reminded me that he had plenty of time and he's never missed a flight. (Except that once, which he swears was a fluke.)

We won't get to bring him home for another couple of months and I'd love to tell you more about our little guy, but until the court hearing is complete, it's unwise. Let's just say, he looks just like me.  ;)

Our prayer list is too long to write here, but if you think of any of us --  Brian, Kristin, Granddaddy, Sammie, Chase, Ava and our new little man -- pray for wisdom, protection and for our faith to grow.

If any internet connection at all is found, I'll try to write again.