Monday, May 13, 2013

Adoption isn't pretty, but it is beautiful.

Two years ago today, I was goofing around on facebook and my phone rang. I saw an 817 area code pop up on my caller ID and my heart stopped.

It was our referral call.

The next 30 minutes were frantic. I was crying, trying to call Rob to get him to come home, and rushing around the house, putting on a movie for the kids, setting up the video camera so we could record the moment we first saw this sweet face.

Here's a screen shot from the video of our very first look at Amani:
Holy puffy eyes, Batman. I cried tons before I even saw his picture!

 And later, of the kids seeing the pictures:
Riley was really focused on what he was wearing in every picture... particularly the one in which
Amani was wearing NOTHING! :)

And now, two years later, our family has been all together for 19 months. And these three crazies fill my days with light:
I cropped this picture, but this was the celebration of Amani wearing big-boy underpants.
Clearly his sibs understand what a big deal this was! I just love how proud he looks here.

But in the midst of the joy of seeing the face of the child you hope to adopt, there is intense grief. I thought I was prepared; I had read tons of "The Call" blog posts, but I had no idea the depth of grief I would feel for Amani's birth parents. Or the depth of my sadness over what he had already lost, and for what he would lose by moving halfway across the world to join our family.

Some of my adoptive mama friends posted this quote on Mother's Day:

Children born to another woman call me "Mom." 
The depth of that tragedy and the magnitude of that privilege are not lost on me." 
(Jody Landers)

Adoption isn't pretty. It's messy, emotional, full of ups and downs. It is wonderful that children can join families and leave orphanages behind, but they have to go through so much loss to get there.  I think of Amani's birth mother nearly every day. Every time my heart fills with joy over my youngest, there is a shadow of sadness, always followed by a wave of gratitude for what his birth mother has relinquished. She is my silent partner in raising him; I imagine her beside me. I send a message out to the universe to her sometimes, a murmur of thanks, telling her about the sparkle in his eye, the joyful ring of his laughter, how silly he can be sometimes. A whisper of reassurance - we are doing right by him, doing the best that we know how. He is flourishing.

Referral day for us is so close to Mother's Day. Amani's adoption has made my Mother's Days so sweet. I can't get over how incredibly blessed I am to have three children. I weep at the joy of it. But Mother's Day and Referral Day aren't just days of celebration for me. I always need a moment of silence. A moment to reflect on how much my joy is intertwined in someone else's pain. And on the honor and privilege of raising a son of Ethiopia, a precious boy born to another woman. Last night, I sat in my bed and sobbed, overwhelmed by all of the emotion.

Adoption isn't pretty. But it is beautiful. God makes beauty from ashes and I see it in my family. God has pruned my heart through the process; it was painful sometimes, but my heart is more like His because of it. And I'm overwhelmed with gratitude.

Happy Referral Day, my sweet Amanuel. What a blessing you are to our family. We love you so!

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