We just had our first post-placement visit for our adoption agency and it got me thinking about what my life has looked like for the past five months.
Five months ago this week I walked into an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to finally bring my son to live with me. I carried him out in my arms, on our first step towards being together as a forever family. And now he's been home with our whole family for over four months.
I would love to paint you a beautiful picture of the last four months, one in which he basked in the love of a family and everyone was always joyful and hopeful. A family where dinner was on the table on time every night and rooms stayed orderly and neat, to help him avoid any further chaos in his life. Where we sit by the fire each night and sing songs of worship as we listen to a family devotion.
Amani, however, is a real child and was adopted by a real family.
That means the last four months have been messy. We have had moments of amazing joy, full of smiles and laughter. We have had moments of utter chaos, with a screaming child and two older children seeking shelter in their rooms. Rob and I have had moments when we looked much more like sleep-deprived, frustrated zombies than our usual selves. Amani's had two surgeries, the second of which gave us a night of trying to comfort a child who was writhing in pain (and a frantic call to the hospital on-call anesthesiologist). We've had days where clean laundry sat in the living room in an ever-growing pile. I have learned how to get dinner on the table every night in an (almost) timely fashion. But it doesn't always mean there won't be a meltdown. And while the older children are doing remarkably well, we do see some ripples in their behavior because of the changes over the past four months.
And that is beautiful. Because through the mess, God is creating a family. Because now that I have some time and space between the day I carried my sweet boy out of the orphanage and today, I can really see and appreciate his progress. He is loved and he now knows it. He has a Mommy and a Daddy and he knows it and can call us by name. You should see the bond he has with his big sister. His face lights up every morning when she wakes up and comes out to see him. She has been so attentive to him, and is so sympathetic about his surgery pain. He wrestles with his big brother and says his name over and over in the car on the way to pick him up from school. He has started requesting hugs and kisses. Real hugs in which he squeezes tight.
There is joy in our mess. Joy in our chaos. We might all show up to church with toothpaste on our shirts (really happened, just last Sunday... me included), but my kids know they are loved by their parents and by their Creator. Beauty is not perfect families with scrubbed-children in their Sunday best saying "yes sir" and "yes ma'am." Beauty is when my children get to see God mold us into a family, mess and all.
My favorite moment this week was Wednesday night. Rob is teaching the AWANA school-age kids about Swaziland and they are raising money to provide goats to Project Canaan there. This week he taught them the song "Akekho Ofana No Jesu" (There's no one like Jesus). I got to stand on the side, with Amani close in the sling and sing to him in Siswati about his Savior who loves him. I love that song and of course Amani doesn't know Siswati (they speak Amharic in Ethiopia), but I was filled with joy knowing the plans God has for my family. We hope to bring all our children back to Ethiopia one day and we plan to bring them to Swaziland someday to serve with us there as well. And for now, we're teaching them about this God we love; praying they will grow up to serve Him too!
I have no clue how I ever deserved the amazing life God has given me thus far. I don't deserve it, but I am so honored and humbled to be a part of what God is doing.