Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Youngest Baby

Today, while on a mommy date with one of my littles at a small coffee shop, we overheard some very sad things. Two young women seemed to believe that no one really wants to adopt children and those who actually do adopt a child do so only because they are infertile or they feel a sense of obligation. They went on to express that the result of the infertile or obligated couple adopting a child is extreme bitterness and misery due to settling for a second best option, and that the couple and child will spend the rest of their lives in regret, looking back and longing for what they can't have (a biological family). They said they've never met anyone who was happy they'd chosen adoption to grow their family.

Today they met me. If you feel the way they do, you should meet me too, because there are a few things I'd like to share with you.

I'd love to tell you how my heart ached for my youngest son for so many years, long before I knew exactly who he was. Infertility didn't play a role in our decision to adopt, but if it had, our choice to grow our family through adoption would be no less valid. I want you to know how after we said yes to him, I missed a person I'd never met in ways I didn't know were possible. I want to tell you that the Christmas without him brought a pain to my soul that I'd never felt before. I prayed for his safety as he grew in the orphanage in the same desperate ways I prayed for my biological children's safety as they grew in my tummy.

I wish I could express to you how it felt the moment I first held him. How my heart was ready to burst- with a fierce mama love that knows no limits and simultaneously, an empathetic grief for all he was losing. How the moment I looked in his eyes for the first time, I knew I'd give my life for his if it ever comes to that. How absolutely amazing he felt in my arms and how our cheeks fit together perfectly every time he snuggled his face into mine. How quickly his precious baby scent and the sound of cries became so familiar that I could recognize them anywhere. How there could be an ocean full of the tears I've cried wishing I could have known him sooner.

I want you to hear how proud of him I am. I'm proud of how strong his little body is and the way he can climb and jump higher than many kids on the playground. I'm proud of the many ways he shows bravery and courage. I'm proud that when there are dumplings on the table, he can out eat just about anybody in the room. I'm proud of the his finger paintings and his rendition of the ABCs. I was never prouder of him than the first moment he showed empathy for another person. I'm so very proud every time I pick him from preschool and he runs to me, yelling "MAMA"!

I hurt for him. The first time he had blood drawn, I wanted to grab him and run out of the hospital. I tear up every time he looks so small and vulnerable as he lays on big cold tables for yet another surgery, test, or procedure. Sometimes he grieves, because he's been through so much, and when he does, I grieve too. I wish I could take away the hard things that have left scars for him to carry for the rest of his life. There are moments when his grief is so real and overwhelming that he can't even let me touch him, but when that happens, I stay quietly close by, waiting for him. I do my best to make our home a safe place for him, and I hope he'll always feel loved here. It's the same hope I have for all 3 of my children.

You should know that love doesn't just magically make a family happen. We work hard to be a family. We pray a lot. We read and ask advice from social workers and other parents who have been there. We cheer at every success and we resolve to try again tomorrow when it's been a bad day. But you might be really surprised to find that in many ways, we're just like any other mommy and son. He grabs food off my plate and I let him have the last bite when he gives me the sad puppy face. He laughs when I blow raspberries on his tummy and I laugh when he tries to blow raspberries back but ends up just slobbering on me. Sometimes he spills his milk, and I get impatient with him, and sometimes I raise my voice, and he gets impatient with me. We read books together, cuddle on the couch to watch cartoons, and tickle each other. We bake cookies, I push him on the swings at the park, and I make him clean up his own toys and make his bed in the morning. I take pictures of him sleeping, and playing, and decorating the Christmas tree, and hunting Easter eggs, and his messy faces, and of him just being him.

I'm Angi and I have 3 beautiful children. Our family was created through biology, adoption, love, and hard work, and everything in between. And I couldn't adore it more.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Stepping Out of the Boat

My mom has this saying when I'm afraid to do something... "Go ahead and step out of the boat, Ang". It comes from the recording of Peter walking on water and it basically means "Ready or not, it's time to leave your comfort zone now to do what you know you need to do".  Stepping out of the boat means my world is about to be upset and it's probably not going to look the same again for a long time, but it will be changed for so much better. I'm about to step out.

I'm leaving for an 11 day trip to China in just 6 weeks (minus 1 day). This time, I'm not bringing back a precious boy. Instead, I'll be visiting and leaving many behind. And to get there, I have to leave my 2 darling boys, 1 beautiful girl, and handsome hubs here. 

Of course, I can think of lots of reasons not to go. There are always reasons to just stay on the boat. My boys might miss me too much. October is too busy of a month. I might miss out on some fall events. It costs too much money. I'm just a mom and housewife. My Mandarin isn't where I hoped it would be. My heart will get broken. I'll probably be changed and I hate change. It's just too hard.

I could dwell there, on the reasons to stay home. And sometimes, for a minute, I do. But then I remember. I get to spend 10 days in my son's birth country. I get to learn a little more of his story. I get to give a week to the staff and kids living in the same orphanage my baby lived. I get to share my life and gifts with sweet ayis. I get to tell them (through my actions, because you know... my Mandarin) how much they matter. I get to meet precious waiting children face to face and then I get to advocate for them! I get to see another perspective, and likely never be the same.

I'm stepping out of the boat. I'm not gonna lie, the water is scary. But it's where I need to be.

I'm looking forward to the journey ahead and I plan to update here when I'm able.