We just hit our one year referral-versary this month.
It is so hard to believe that a year ago I first saw this sweet face:
That was such a crazy day. When you are adopting, you read a million adoption blogs every day and your favorite posts are always entitled "The Call." You read them, you cry, and you dream of the day you get to post your own "The Call" post. Ours was here: http://casselljourneytoafrica.blogspot.com/2011/05/call.html
We got seven pictures of Amani that day and I immediately had them printed out and carried them with me everywhere. I studied those pictures. I pored over them, memorizing every feature of that sweet boy.
Want to know something weird? It's really hard for me to look at those pictures now. I was looking at them, trying to pick one to put up on facebook on our actual referral-versary and I had to stop for a minute. My heart hurt.
I still miss that baby. My heart still hurts that I never held him when he was tiny, never carried him when that was his only means of moving around, never got to do those bleary-eyed late-night feedings, snuggled up in the dark. I will never know his first-year milestones. When did he roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk for the first time? I don't know because I wasn't there.
My heart still yearns for the 15 months of his life that I didn't get to live with him.
Don't get me wrong, we are loving every moment we have with him now (okay, maybe not every moment. My child did rub hummus in his hair today.) I still look over at him sometimes and my heart skips a beat, realizing he really is home. He has a habit of grabbing my face with his hands and turning it towards him and saying "Mommy!" when he really wants my attention. I melt every time. He has really picked up on "thank you" and is the only one of my three kiddos who says it unprompted, every time. He loves shoes, dancing, and his bear Washsha , (It means "dog" in Amharic - a funny story, actually). He has a "silly face" that he knows he can use to make us laugh anytime he wants.
The adoption journey doesn't end when you step off that plane. In truth, it really begins. He's been home seven months now. Life is SO much easier than it was at first. He is settling into our family, feeling safe, letting his guard down with us. But I know we aren't out of the woods. We will ride that adoption rollercoaster for the rest of our lives, to some degree, I'm sure.
But these are the kinds of pictures I get to look at now:
I think it's appropriate that we got our referral right around Mother's Day. We'd been trying to figure out when we wanted to set aside time to honor his birthparents and we've decided we'll do it on our referral day. There is another woman in my life every year on Mother's Day now. Amani's birthmother forever has a special place in my heart. I love her in a way that I can't quite explain. I want Amani to know that his birthmother and birthfather will always be honored in our family.
And that means we will be having injera tomorrow night for dinner. Can I tell you how happy it makes my heart that all three kids LOVE Ethiopian food? We are Habesha at heart. :)
**A quick note to any waiting families that might still read our blog: I am forever praying for y'all. Always. I have not forgotten, nor will I ever forget, how hard it is to wait. Adoptive waiting families have found their way permanently onto my prayer list. Hang in there, you are not alone!