GAH! Remember that time I went to China and blogged about the power and the romance and the anticipation of it all and THEN TOTALLY BAILED ON FINISHING THE STORY!? Not that it’s finished, because really it’s still just beginning. But our nephew Johnathan is now home. There is one less orphan on this planet. He now knows about Aunties and Uncles and Grandmas and Grandpas and CHRISTMAS.
In fact, one of my favorite things about Christmas this year was watching our nieces and nephews play. On my husband’s side of the family, all of the kiddos are adopted. One from Russia, Johnathan from China, and our niece is “locally made”. There’s some kind of fascinating miracle taking place as God weaves this side of the family out of and through adoption.
Since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m going to make up for my long silence, and just add a few words of my own about welcoming international adoption. And welcoming a nephew home from China.
First things first. It’s amazing. He’s amazing.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy by any means, nor does it run perfectly. Adoption is filled with questions, some with answers, some not so much.
It was incredible to be there for all the firsts. His first game of catch with his new big brother. His first (but certainly not last) tantrum. His first Thanksgiving and Christmas. But above all, his first giggle. Not his first giggle in this life, but in this family. See, it was clear he had been well loved by his caretakers. Thanks be to God, He had much to grieve. But grief is never something you want someone to experience. Those first few days and nights were brutal as his heart (and lungs) cried out in confusion and terror. See, his mom and dad knew him, had prayed for him, longed for him, worked hard to get to him. But to him they were just strangers that had shown up one day and taken him away from the nanny he loved. We were in the hotel room next door, taking care of his older brother, and let’s just say that the thin walls ensured that no one got too much sleep those first few nights. This is just one more parallel I see in adoption of a child and our adoption as children of God. Just because it’s “done” in one moment, in the signature on a page, doesn’t mean that the new identity is understood, or even liked, right away. Still, being part of a family is always > than being part of an institution, so it’s worth the work. On both sides.
Since we were there as part of their support team, we got a front row seat for what international adoption looks like through the eyes of an auntie. It looks like …
… Eating a lot of hotel food. You do what’s easy. But you also splurge on things like ice cream fondue. Come on America, let’s get THIS going.
… Building a lot of Legos. There’s a lot of paperwork to wait on.
… Some exploring. Some tea-ing. We may or may not have been talked into some expensive teas. #wheninchina
… Fake mustaches. Aka ways to make the hours pass.
… Games of tag in front of ancient temples.
… Reminding yourself over and over that ‘sad is not bad.’ I’m a big proponent of this truth. Sad says that something matters. Still, sad is not fun.
… That priceless first giggle. Again, not his first ever. But first to our ears. A hard-earned, well-deserved giggle after days of tears and screams (sad is not bad, sad is not bad, sad is not bad). It took a few days to get a tentative smile, then a grin, and finally full out giggles as he took tiny steps into the heart of his family, and welcomed them into his own.
… Finding new and creative forms of recreation. New Zealand introduced us to Zorbing. China introduced us to Zorbing on the water. VERY sad that it was for kids only! (sad is not bad, sad is not bad, sad is not bad … it just means I have to keep exploring until I DO find this for adults :))!
… Finding yourself amongst so many other stories, all gathered in the city of Ghangzhou for the final leg of the trip to process US Embassy paperwork.
… Being home for Christmas. And soon, EASTER.
Happy #tbt everyone.