Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why I cried on the first day of Preschool

Our youngest, Amani, is three years old. Two years ago yesterday, I carried him out of an orphanage in Ethiopia to live with me in Addis Ababa until we could get his visa to enter the US.

Playing on the floor of our guest house in Addis!
Looking back, I can see his anxiety over me standing up to take the picture.

Two years ago, I had an incredibly scared, confused little boy. He would only let me put him down for a few minutes at a time, crying if I moved an inch, insisting to be picked back up if I so much as shifted my weight. I held him most of the day. He'd cry if I sat down. So I held him standing up. We were both exhausted. Him from fear and anxiety, me from... well, from standing up holding a crying baby all day long.

Two years ago, I didn't know how to comfort my scared, confused little boy. I didn't speak the language he could understand, I didn't know the songs to soothe him or how he liked to be held.

Two years ago, my scared confused little boy was so sick. I didn't know he'd end up in surgery only a week after we came home.

Two years ago, his chronic ear infections and pneumonia were threatening his hearing and his breathing.


Two weeks ago, he started preschool two mornings a week.

Two weeks ago, his school paperwork indicated a very normal, healthy boy. (um, well they would have... I still need to turn those in... doh!)

Two weeks ago, he requested a red polo shirt and navy shorts so he could dress like his big brother for his first day of school. (He has since requested that exact same outfit every day of school.)

Two weeks ago, he held my hand as he giddily skipped up the walkway to his school.

Two weeks ago, I had to catch up with him at his classroom door to remind him to hang up his backpack before he could go running into the room.

Two weeks ago, my confident, happy child gave me a giant hug and said, "Bye Mommy!"

And I wept.

Not because I'm sad that my baby is growing up. Because I know how far he has come. Because I know what his life would look like had he never been adopted. I was overcome with joy over the blessing that is my third child.

I am always honest when people ask about adoption: it is the hardest thing I've ever done. The first year home was nothing short of insane. I don't think I breathed until year two.

When you have normal, healthy kids, you don't always realize what a gift that is.  When you have a child from "a hard place": one who has had to survive, to struggle, to be strong and then you get a glimpse of normal, it is such a blessing.  His first day of preschool felt like my crowning glory.

I praise God for my giggly, happy, healthy, nothing-short-of-amazing third child. I praise God for normal. It is truly an unbelievable gift.

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