Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Shirt

The shirt made a brief debut in December 2008. Size 3T, "Awesome Big Brother." I found it at a little second-hand shop the same day I found out we were expecting. These days, everyone tends to think early on about how they'll announce such joyful news - I was going to have Josh wear it and post the picture. And invite the world to rejoice with us.

But just 4 weeks later I was packing that shirt away, deep in the throes of silent grief. I remember thinking that I should just trash it - what were the chances it would still fit him if and when we ever got that chance to announce? 

Months went by, then years. 

I forgot about the shirt.

Just a few weeks ago I was going through our 3T box and pulling out clothes for my ginormous 16 month old and there it was. 

Size 3T, "Awesome Big Brother."  

Just days after we found out that he would, indeed, be one. And soon.

It's funny how life works. You find out news, you plan something out. You dream, you hope, you mourn. You roll with what life brings next or scream about it's unfairness. You rail at God some days, you forget to care others. You pray and then stop and then pray again.

And then suddenly you are this family of five. And this shirt that was meant to announce joy to the world 7 years ago, this shirt that you so painfully packed away, gets new life. New, unexpected life.

Isn't that the way things happen sometimes? One dream dies and we even forget about the little ancillary details that might have surrounded it. Meanwhile, God is working in the background. Things are happening that we can't see and wouldn't understand in their uncompleted form anyway. They are too big for our human mind. Life moves forward and we never see the ways that dreams might come back around in a renewed form until they are thrust before us.

And let me be clear here: I am not saying that God likes that my two younger boys have lost their first familues or that years ago when I bought this shirt God was working then to make it so my kids would go through that pain of loss and possible eventual struggles with identity that can come with adoption. In my opinion, it is never his plan that families would not stay together- but situations happen and adoption exists for a reason. These boys are not the lucky ones  - we are the ones privileged to have them be a part of our family, to enrich our lives, to be our sons even as they deal eventually with their own losses and questions.What I AM saying is that we dreamed of being parents to more than one child. We mourned and waited and struggled and almost gave up. But in just 20 months, we now have two more children and feel overwhelmed with fullness and joy. (And, obviously, sleep deprivation ;-)

My sweet oldest boy never wore that shirt. But man has he lived up to it's wording. And just a year and a half after becoming that awesome big brother that he so longed to be, he gets to do it again and watch his little brother become one, too. 

My oldest actually leapt up from the table and did a happy dance when he found out the news and asks constantly to hold him and feed him and cuddle him. My middle boy has no idea who this little person is who has invaded his life, his space, his parents' attention.
Sweet boy in his drooly shirt- give him a break, he's working on 4 molars!

But he's wearing that shirt. That shirt that represented a lost dream, a deep sadness, an unfulfilled announcement. 

That shirt is living proof that God is faithful. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Meeting Mama

On my youngest's first birthday this past fall we received a wonderful gift- a picture of his first mother and the sweetest message of love and best wishes we could have hoped for for him. Needless to say, we have treasured that contact with her and that picture and note will be a beautiful piece of his life story. We have spent almost 17 months now hoping for more contact with her, praying that God would comfort her in her decision, praying that some day our sweet boy would know her, that we would meet her fact to face.

And now, in one short week, part of that dream is coming true.

In one week, my husband and I will meet her. She isn't ready to have contact with our little boy, her little boy, but this is huge, my friends. And I cannot describe the mixture of excitement, nerves and urgency I feel. This could be the first of many visits, the precursor to meeting her son or this could be all we get. We won't know.

So while I am excited to meet her, to finally put a real person with the stories and the one picture we treasure, I recognize that this is most important for my little guy. We have a few hours (maybe) to ask some questions about her own story and his extended family, to be able to soak her in so we can answer questions about her some day for him when they arise. What will he want to know, I wonder? Short minutes in which to convey to her our love for this little boy who is our son as much as hers now.

And the nagging, painful thoughts in the back of my mind: Will she think we are enough? That we are good and right for him? What will she think about this decision she made? Will meeting us make it harder or give her some sense of peace? Will she wish she had chosen black parents, especially in the wake of such a racially charged year for our country?

I may never know the answers to these questions. She may never think them, to be honest. I, being true to my nature, may be borrowing trouble here. Overthinking this. It's hard not to overthink something that may end up being a crucial piece of his puzzle, though.

So, this next week as we wait to meet her, as my list of questions grows, as I think of which pictures to take with her (if she agrees) and which stories to tell about my sweet boy, I will pray for peace. For her and for us. That we would see this time, this meeting, as a gift on both sides. That if it is too hard for her, she will be honest with us.

Deep down in my heart of hearts, I will be praying that this will be the first of many, but asking the Lord to protect me from bitter disappointment if this is the first and last. And knowing that no matter how it feels and where it goes, whether we are easy friends or the awkwardness and tension is palpable, that this is a good and beautiful thing. For us, for my boy and, hopefully, for her.