Five years ago these 2 little boys were officially adopted in Zambia, Africa. They were given new names...new identities...and really...a whole new life.
Oh I wouldn't trade those five years for anything. There were very hard days. Lots of adjustments. Lots of love. I hear at least once every several weeks how very thankful they are that God chose them...and that God chose us. To be a family. Zunduka says "I'm so glad you obeyed God when He asked you to adopt us". Chazano wrote me a letter in school the other day. It was part of his school work. At the end of the day when I was correcting his work...I sat there with tears.
I'll write his letter here. There are so many of you that need the hope of '5 years later'. We, as parents, but especially as adoptive parents...get stuck in the here and now. The hard of today. That we can't see the transformations happening. It's like physical growth. You can't see it happening but all of a sudden you look back and see how big your baby has gotten. Just tonight I pulled up photos of Nazara. From just 6 months ago. And I can't believe it. How has that happened right before our eyes...? And we missed it. We were so in the moment...that we missed seeing her grow.
If you have recently adopted...you know what I mean.
You have counted down for this day for so long. Your child is finally home. Safe. Where they belong.
And you...you expected peace. Love. To be flooded with mushy, gushy emotions from sun up to sun down.
But your reality...well...it's different.
There's language barriers. That's...a big deal. It takes time. But you want it fixed...today.
There's attachment. Oh. Yah...that. That thing that either gets so blown out of proportion that we scare every potential adoptive parent away...or gets so under-mentioned that some of us are left with our heads spinning and our hearts completely confused. Attachment. I recently read a quote that I loved. Someone said "every single adoption today...no matter where you adopt from...no matter the age...the health...every adoption is special needs. They all come with attachment issues." And oh...the truth of that.
Food issues. Either refusal to eat or stealing and hoarding food. We weren't prepared for that. For the fact that for three years post adoption...we never served the bowls of food on the table. We pre-plated the food. We found that if they saw the extra food...they swallowed their food whole to get more. They were trained that way. No...no one taught them that. They just learned it. Survival. When you see food...eat all you can. Because you don't know when you will see it again.
Fears. Oh the fears. The day I went into the hospital to have Izrael...and Chazano and Zunduka sat in the back yard and had tear stains down their face all day. They wouldn't talk. That wouldn't play. They just silently cried. Years later...as they opened up...they told us they thought I was going to die. When people go to the hospital in Africa...they are really really sick.
The attachment. Yes I'm talking about this again because it surfaces over and over. When we went to China for 23 days in 2012...we returned to a sobbing Chazano in the airport. As in...really, loudy...sobbing. We took him aside and he quickly said "I don't want you to come home...this is my new family!!". He then got in the back of the van and sobbed all the way home. Once we got home...we couldn't find Chazano. Now ... we are grossly sleep deprived. A 16 hour layover. I'm puking my guts up pregnant with Nazara. Taizi and Zihao are still totally traumatized...and Chazano...who has been adopted for 3 years...is in a fetal position hiding in his room. When I go in he is sobbing. Wailing. "I have a new family now!!! Why did you come back? I don't understand!!". Talk about a lump in your throat. Have we loved for 3 years...for this...? But no...we didn't go there. We just loved him through it. And about a year later he came to me at bedtime and said something so personal. He was so vulnerable in that moment. He was teary and said "Mommy...? Remember that time you came home from China and I cried and cried and cried and didn't want you home? I wanted to tell you I'm sorry for that. I'm really sorry. That must have made you sad. I wanted to tell you the truth. The truth is ... every night that you were gone...I'd look out the window and see the moon and the stars and I'd think 'what if they never come home?'. 'What if their plane crashes?'. 'What if I never see them again?'. And just in case that happened...because I was so scared...I started to pretend this was my new family. I'm really sorry Mommy." Well...woah. This was such a vulnerable moment. My heart hurt for Chazano. So many fears. So many abandonment issues. So scared.
The spiritual baggage. Yes. Sorry if that offends you. But woah. There were crazy things. Crazy things. From all the kids screaming at the same time in the middle of the night in all different rooms...where Dean and I would RUN down the hallway with goosebumps up and down our necks just praying out loud for whatever was in our house to leave. Now. To my sweet boy, Zunduka having the same "dream without being asleep every single night". You know. That crazy night I blogged about around a year and a half ago...? That night where all the kids were sleeping in our master bedroom (it was massive) as a sleepover and Zunduka sat up in the middle of the night screaming the loudest I had ever heard him. SCREAMING. He was wide awake and he was seeing something. He kept saying "the hand...the hand!!!" and pointing to it right in front of his face. I will never ever ever ever forget that night. How instantly I jumped out of bed and I knew. I knew what was happening. I could feel it in the room. It was dark. It was heavy. And it was real. I instantly started praying out loud. Dean jumped up right behind me and was doing the same. We grabbed him and his entire body was shaking. He was terrified. As we brought him into bed with us we read the Bible out loud and play worship music on the phone. But it wasn't over. No. We are all wide awake just laying silently when Zunduka screams again that it was right over my head. We jumped up and started praying and commanding it to leave. And truly...honestly...it left. We felt it leave. He has told us since that he has seen that hand for YEARS. Years. We just didn't know. Heartbreaking.
In the days...the nights...the moments...we were just moment by moment. Day by day. We couldn't see five years later...then.
But today...it's been five years. Five years...that have changed us for the better.
Five years of Grace. Five years of learning how to love...without conditions. Five years of moments of beauty. Sometimes they were small...but they were always there. Grace. Often given in the form of a gift...to simply get through another day. Always Grace.
And this is the letter that Chazano wrote me in school. I hope this brings hope to your heart. My advice...? Just keep loving. Love them through all the hard. The more they fight it...they more you need to love. Because here we are today...five years later...and it was all worth it.
Thank you for adopting me and Zunduka. I am so glad you adopted us. Because of you, I know Jesus. I'm so happy that you love Jesus too.
April 4, 2010