I'm actually writing this from the front porch of my guest house room in Ethiopia. The boys are asleep in the room as I sit out and relax at night. Now you'll notice a few things in that sentence. First, yes I have my boys. I've signed the final papers and no one can take them away from me (legally that is). Also, it's "I" not "we" that's here to pick them up. My wife is back home with our daughters for a number of reasons. It's fun to be with them. But hard to be with them alone. I have a visa for them to enter the United States but do not yet have a visa for them to enter the country we live in. So I'm here. Probably for a few more days at least.
First off, it's exhilarating to finally be with my sons. This has been the goal. But as excited as I am, it doesn't feel done yet until they're home with my wife and daughters. There also is the inevitable feeling of shock that comes after you've worked this hard for something. It's been two and a half years. A year and a half since we were first referred our sons. That's a long time to wait. And these boys are a great gift. But it's almost a feeling of let down that they aren't perfect after so long!
Now don't get me wrong. I never expected perfect, but it's hard to long for anything this much without at least a bit of a feeling of "buyers remorse". I don't regret that I spent the money, or took the time, or any of it, but after two and half years of waiting they still poop their pants? This is the $60,000 dollar model right? Cuz that's what I paid for!
Okay that sounds crass. More than I probably mean it to. But I have to say it's strange how all the feelings mix together. I imagine a huge percentage of adopting parents have tons of feelings they're afraid to admit to people. Even their spouses.
Now, I do love the living daylights out of them. And I'm surprised how much I'm attached. But then there is also the feeling of frustration for me,
first and foremost over language. I can neither express frustration or delight. Encouragement or discouragement. Even reason is lost, "Don't touch that light socket or you'll zap yourself," is what I say, but all they hear is daddy saying no.
In December I visited and the younger of the boys screamed bloody murder one nap time, "My daddy left me! My daddy left me!" (Or so my translator said). That made me feel mighty loved until today a friend visited me for about three hours and he screamed the same thing at bed time for an hour (the best I could tell that's what those daddy screams were).
There is so much wrapped up in this. It's making me realize how much I delight in my daughters because they are like me. I enjoy them and their personality for often vain reasons. My sons don't think or act like I do (not yet) except in the ways that boys do just because they're boys. When they do something that's super boy-like, such as play in a puddle for a solid hour, laughing hysterically at how wet they are, I delight in that because I'd be the same way. But when they smile at their own disobedience it makes me crazy. I want them to want to please me like my daughters do. But they don't. I want them to care about my opinion, but they're still figuring out their own.
My boys giggle. And laugh. They're ticklish. And they sing songs and talk to each other (they're 3 and 4 by the way). They take a while to fall asleep but sleep like angels without waking up even briefly all night long. Often 13 hours. They smile and play with each other. They like rain, sunshine, strollers, balls, sticks, drinking water, and eating beans by the pound.
But they don't know Jesus and I can't even tell them about Him. When I pray they don't know what's going on. My daughters are used to it. My sons push my hands off their belly and get confused about whom I'm talking to.
I'm stuck on Ethiopia alone with them for about 5 days longer than I would have liked. Alone time with them is good. And I should rejoice. Unfortunately I'm only here right now because of a bonehead move my agency made on Friday. It took them 30 minutes longer to do something than they anticipated and so a government office they needed was closed. So I waited through the weekend. They got it solved this morning (Monday), but then the embassy I need is closed until Thursday. Knowing my plans were thwarted yet again by incompetence is overwhelmingly frustrating. Had it been anyone else (as opposed to my agency which has made nearly every possible mistake) I think I would have been fine. But the incompetence is stealing my joy. I'm having to work hard in the Word to rejoice over the gift the Lord has given me rather than pray imprecatory Psalms over these people.
I should mention that a few weeks back I found nothing in the word that could keep my attention. It was people's stories I didn't care about in the Old Testament. Or theology I couldn't process in the New. This is why God gave us the Psalms. Man, can I read the Psalms when life is too emotionally roller-coaster-esque for anything else.
I've been such an emotional wreck for six months I've thrown out my back probably 10 times when I normally only throw it out every few years. I'm so stressed my time in the word has suffered and I've slept like poo. In the last few days my back has recovered by leaps and bounds (until today when I got so mad it tightened up again). I've slept so much better in the last three nights it's incredible. I feel rested. Overwhelmed.
But it's still not done. Not till they're home. And then that's just the beginning. Of disobedience. Crying at night. Attachment to us and too much attachment to others. Eating issues. Potty issues. Whew! But I'm so ready for these problems.
Adoption has been incredibly hard and I'm just getting started.
But when I rub these boys heads and see their smiles and the bounce in their walk I get excited. Not because everything is finally peachy keen. But because someday they're really going to know that I'm their daddy. Different than that other guy they met. And they'll understand when I see them do something that delights me and I yell "That's my boy!"
Someday my boys will know they're my boys and they won't remember any different. They'll know their sisters and mom. They'll know the foods we eat and how to wash their hands and where and when to poop. They'll live and experience love. In a way they wouldn't have otherwise. And my family will have the pleasure of being there through everything it takes to get them there. And we'll grow and stretch and fall madly in love with them.
Goodness. This had been hard. But they're mine now. And no one can take them away from me.
Thank you Lord for your faithfulness to me when I was faithless. Thank you for protecting my boys. Show me how to love and protect them. And be with our family. All six of us as we go through the transition of a lifetime.