Sunday, April 28, 2013

It is About Me

Starting in 2009, we were beginning to understand and accept that this life is not our own.  It is not about us.  We made decisions that have changed the course of our life and the path of our children.  They were costly decisions and ones we would not change.

When the journey became long and quiet, people would ask, "How are you all doing?"  We would say, "We are alright.  It's not about us, though."

When the days became painful and the future was not promising, people would ask, "How are you holding up?"  We would say, "It hurts so bad, but this is not about us.  It's about a little boy 8,000 miles away."

When the triumphant day came that we walked off a plane holding our son's hands, people rejoiced.  They said, "Good for you!  You have waited so long."  Deep down, we would scold ourselves for believing any part of it was about us.  We tried to remember that the airport was not the finish line, but the starting point.  It's not about us and our victory, after all.  In adoption, in order for the joy to come, there must be loss so painful, it's wrong to even pretend to understand.  We reminded ourselves that our joy was so many others' loss, including birth family, nannies, friends who were like brothers and sisters living in the same orphanage home, and others we've probably not imagined yet.

Now he is home and has had the most beautifully miraculous adjustment and attachment we could've even imagined.  He eats anything you give him, sleeps well most of the time, and wants to follow the rules.  He loves his family and he cares about every one of them.  He asks where each and every one is a dozen times every day:  roll call.

When people see us out, they say, "He is so beautiful.  How has he done?"  We say, "It's just been too good to imagine.  It's like he's been with us forever."

People are amazed to see how his brother and sisters have adjusted.  Very few people ask, "How are you doing?  How have you adjusted?"  And that's ok.  It's not about me.

I will admit.  This has been harder than I thought it would be.  We've done crazy before.  Three kids in 4 years was enough to make us raise the white flag.  When people told us to enjoy the peace in our home before Jude came home, we brushed it off because we'd done crazy before.  Nothing new.

Enter God.  Enter humility.  Give us the most well-adjusted, healthy, beautiful beyond description boy in all of Ethiopia and watch us squirm.  We are so weak!  I am not proud of the struggle it's been for the past several weeks around here.   Ugly places in my heart have come out of hiding and it is very clear:  IT IS ABOUT ME.  This entire journey.  It's been about me and my busted heart.  God is using this adoption to heal busted places in my heart.  Weak, faithless, wobbly, proud places of my heart.

I knew we'd never be perfect, but I figured 3 years of waiting and preparing were enough to allow for some smooth-sailing after the airport.  Could not have been more wrong.  No amount of time, no amount of pain, no amount of felt victory is enough to protect a family from the challenges of adoption.

Tonight we dedicated our little boy to the Lord.  We made a promise to Him and to our church family that we would depend upon God for strength and wisdom in raising Jude.  In my heart, I made a promise to the special mother who brought Jude into the world.  In the program, the church included the names of the families dedicating their children.  They also included the meaning behind the name.  We chose Jude because the meaning we found was "Praise" and "Thanks."   The church found his name to mean "Healer."  Oh my.  This little boy is a healer.  All this time I thought we were supposed to be healing him: healing past trauma and loss and showing him what a family is and what unconditional love feels like.

It is about me.

Psalm 147:3  He heals the broken in heart and binds up their wounds.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Catching vomit

We had a sick baby boy yesterday.  From the minute he woke up, he was not himself.  He had a fever and a runny nose.  I made an appointment with the doctor, just to make sure there was nothing else hiding, like an ear infection.

After a 3 hour nap, he woke up vomiting.  Not just a little.  Like a champ.  It broke my heart into 1000 pieces to see him in pain.  But I have to admit, it was the first time I spent the day catching vomit with joy in my heart.  It literally turned my day right-side-up, because I'd been dealing with a little bit of "poor me."

I had the privilege of not only catching his vomit multiple times, but also following up each session with a warm wash-cloth and a couple warm baths, a lot of rocking, holding, and sleeping.  Jason met me at the doctor's office, where we stood together and caught his vomit in the parking lot, with our other 3 kids running around like escapees from the local mental hospital and dozens of Cerner professionals watching.  Privileged.

This is the first time he's been sick in the 7 weeks at home.  During the in-between (529 days), after we saw his face for the first time at age 4 mos, and our "gotcha" day, he was hospitalized at least twice.  Once for repeated vomiting and once for respiratory complications.  Neither time did he have Mommy nor Daddy with him.  Neither time did he have even a nanny or care-giver with him to comfort him and make him see that everything was going to be alright.  No one to watch him sleep in the tiny little hospital bed or rejoice when the dr. gave the "all clear" report.  Nope.  Just a driver, hired to drive him back to the orphanage.

Who caught his vomit?

Who wiped him off?

Who gave him a warm bath?

Who gave him crackers to settle his stomach?

The pain and anger we felt during his African hospitalizations:  it's still there.   It's still alive and well. However, it feels good to know that from now on, he will not be sick alone.