Adopting an older child is a process with a huge learning curve. I'm not saying this as a negative, but as the truth. I met a sweet woman in the airport in China last month, & she was really struggling. They had just adopted for the first time, & she said, "No one ever told me...". I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to chat, b/c it took me back to this day in Ethiopia. We have been on a journey since that day, finding our way in the midst of trying to keep a healthy balance between nurture & creating boundaries for a child that has known self-reliance all the while encouraging his individuality. I think that even if people tell you, nothing can really prepare you b/c every child is different. But that's the beauty...every child is different. Unique. Special. A treasure to be discovered anew every single day. Easy? No. Worth the effort to work through the layers to make the discoveries of who he is? Yes.
I am so thankful for K'Tyo. His smile lights up the room (actually, it lights up our town...ask anyone & they will say, "That kid is always smiling!") & he is quick to lend a hand. He loves sports, & is competitive as all get down. He melts my heart with his compassion for others & the way he notices details & gives thoughtful compliments. He has such an enthusiasm for life, & I am blessed to be on this journey of discovery as his mom.
May 2, 2010 - So, after having a decent night of sleep, we got up for the big day. The day you wait for & try to envision for a very long time. It was very surreal, & then became a bit comical. We were picked up in this van...there are many, many of these in Ethiopia, and they all have their own flare. Ours was decked out in fur on the dash & all kinds of other funky accessories. We got to enjoy what I assume was Ethiopian rap on our way to the orphanage. Not sure that's what I had envisioned, but I was kind of diggin' it!
The metal gate to the orphanage was opened, and the first thing we saw were toddler-age children everywhere, but we didn't see K'Tyo. So, we followed the other parents into the baby room & watched as they were united with their little ones. I was glad we got to witness this for a few minutes, but then we decided to venture out to see if we could find our boy. Just as we were about to step out of the door, Kami said, "Mom, there's 'Tyo". With his huge arm sling, it was unmistakably him. I think he was trying to figure out what all the excitement was about b/c he looked kind of puzzled. It's a little bit of a blur, but I remember squatting down & saying his name. He looked at me, & I pointed to myself & said, "Mommy". He came to me, a little bashful at first, but once he put his arms around my neck, he literally did not let go. I know I keep using this word, but it was very surreal.
Now, that was the fairytale part. The reality began to hit as this sweet little boy stayed very close during our whole visit. He never got far from me or Kameryn, but all I could think was, "I need to clean him up". I moved past the emotion of the experience to a bit of panic. I think a lot of it was being tired & it's also very overwhelming. We finally got back to the guest house, and I was into "roll-up-my-sleeves" mode. He was in desperate need of a bath, nail trimming, & teeth brushing. Lots of teeth brushing. At the end of the day when he was tucked into bed, I felt more like a nurse than a momma. I had to shed a few tears as I desperately was missing my husband & other children all the while wondering what had just happened.
The reason I'm sharing this is b/c I've said before that I don't like to pretend or try to portray perfection. Lots of things in life are hard. This was a beautiful but extremely hard day. But here's the good news: We made it through, and Monday morning brought a new day with new experiences showered in a good dose of God's grace. I look forward to sharing in the coming days details surrounding falling in love with my son.....