I thought I’d start our adoption category with a guest post written by one of my most favorite friends in the whole wide world. Her name is Shannan, although she responds to many of the nicknames I’ve given her over the past several months, too. Some of which include- “Ess”, “Ester”, and “Estevez”. I’m also hoping to work in “Escargot” and “Escalator”.
Don’t worry, Ess has dubbed me “El”, “El Camino”, and “Auntie El”, so I’m sure she’ll be down with the new nicknames once she hears them.
(Auntie El, as “Auntie Em”)
She and her husband, Cory, have three little kiddos (Calvin from South Korea, Ruby from the U.S., and Silas from South Korea). She writes a blog called Flowerpatch Farmgirl, and her Big Adoption Series conjures up inspired tears on a regular basis. Her guest post today is about her most recent adoption, and I must warn you, it’s a tried and true tear-jerker, too. But it’s something that Kevin and I appreciate her sharing with us as we begin the journey to our special little guy or gal this year.
Without further ado, I give you, Ess….
Two nights back, my littlest guy, a 2-year old, crawled across the floor to me and I teared up. He’s a walker, of course. A mad-dasher, really. He races around our house like his britches are ablaze. He never, ever stops. Not ever. Not once.
I was folding laundry in my usual spot during that nail-biting hour before Daddy, everyone’s Hero, arrives home from work. By 4 o’clock, we’re all a little tired of each other, especially when it’s ten below outside. We need a change of scenery, a new face. We’re hungry. Some of us might even be a little crabby, though I’m not naming names. He was lured over to the small towel mountain beside me, so soft and jump-able. Before long, his sillies were ramped up to high gear and he raced around the room, flinging towels and giggling. He dropped to his knees and scrambled over to my lap. It hit me then: I had never seen my baby crawl.
And that’s not even the half of it.
We picked him up 10 months ago in South Korea.
The first time I ever saw him, live and in the flesh, he was 18 months old, racing around a tiny apartment with no furniture but a plethora of houseplants and a flat-screen TV.
There’s a gaping hole there, an absence of things I’ll never know for sure, things this Mommy missed, and I’m sad for it. But what I’m finding to be even sadder is that what I missed out on is an anthill at the feet of what he has missed, what he has lost. This isn’t really about me, you know.
This is his story, and the book never does close.
My heart has been scraped raw in trying to piece together why his story had to begin with loss so large, followed by loss so piercingly sharp, so jagged and traumatic. I imagine what it must be like for a toddler, to be taken by strangers from the only home, the only family, you’ve ever known. I remember that day when I least expect it and when I would really rather not. The wound opens up again, just at the corner. It was one of the best days of my life, wrapped up in one of the worst. We took him from the arms of the people he trusted most in the world and we carried him away and he cried the saddest tears. They just kept falling, until he passed out in my arms, totally spent.
The good news is, my husband and I had known to expect this.
The bad news is, we did not expect that the whole routine would repeat itself starting at the very moment he woke the next morning, and continue on through the day, through a trip across the ocean, and the day that followed. And the day after that.
He spent his first days as a part of our family enraged and desperate, heartsick and lost. He brought his little shoes to me, crying, ready for me to lace them up and send him home. He rattled every doorknob in the house, searching for the family he lost.
For that first string of nights Silas and I both cried ourselves to sleep.
What caught me by surprise even then was the fact that I did already love my sad little boy. We had miles to go with bonding, but living in the same room with him and his Grief pushed me further along than I thought I would be. My heart cracked open for him, and then it cracked smaller and smaller until one night, it shattered.
In that moment, I was so broken for him that I wished we could hop on a plane and take him home. I wanted to stop the bleeding for him and it seemed, at that moment, like that was the only bandage that would cover his wound. Of course I was wrong, and I think I knew it even then. The truth is, he had no family back in Korea. He had no home.
He couldn’t understand it then, but I have faith that he will.
The very next morning light swept in and rescued every last one of us. That’s what He means when He says He will not give us more than we can handle. I’m here to tell you – you can trust those words. The days that followed right up to today have been a long haul, riddled with bumps and painted new with the colors of sunrise. To be honest, I imagined that we would be further along than we are in some regards, 10 months in. I have two reference points, two previous adoptions that were both so different and every bit as lovely. But his progress, our progress as a family, is worthy of a gold star, I believe. Our trust was hard-won.
Today at church, we dropped him off at the nursery. When we picked him up, he was still wearing his winter coat, snapped to the chin, and his sock hat, just as he has done for the past four Sundays. He’s happy as long as he remains suited up. We walked through the Dutch door and he ran to us, arms stretched as wide as his smile. He rested his sweaty head on my shoulder. He had been waiting for us. He knew we were coming for him and he wanted to be ready. He wanted everyone to know that he could play for a while, but that he was not staying. We hopped into our van and he yanked that hat right off. He was heading home.
Thank you so much, Layla, for giving me the opportunity to share some of the harder parts of this beautiful gift – adoption. I am so excited for you and Kevin as you begin to walk a similar road and I love your heart that longs to walk with your eyes wide open. I cannot wait to see your child, hand-picked by God just for you, at home in your arms.