Celebrating Caleb

Today is the third anniversary of Caleb's adoption. Gotcha Day. Many use that term, although I typically don't. I'm not sure why...it really doesn't feel like an accurate description. It is a term that seems far too simple and the word "gotcha" feels a little icky to me. I can remember the very first time I laid eyes on this child...his picture was on my computer...sent by our agency. Baby Gebremedin.  He was so precious and so tiny...his eyes empty, afraid...almost searching. He wasn't fat and happy like my first three kids. The whole experience felt similar to carrying a child and giving birth, yet vastly different. There were nerves and there was suspense and hopeful anticipation. But our first three kids didn't come with the hard back story. They didn't come to me having already experienced tremendous loss. They were a clean slate. Caleb, even at nine months, had already been through much. Some might wonder how he could know that...he was so young when he became ours. But kids know. I don't know how and I cannot explain the complicated physiological mechanisms that go behind it, but I have talked with enough adoption mamas to be thoroughly convinced...these babies know when their first moms are not there...and the stress has a tremendous impact on their little souls.

It was about six months from the time I first saw his face until I could finally hold him. Six months of us living in excess...doing too much, spending too much, eating too much, celebrating a Christmas with too much, having TOO much...while he languished in an orphanage. We were ready for him; however,  due to the bureaucracy that is international adoption...there was still much red tape to wade through. But in early February 2010, Patrick, Bailey and I boarded a plane to make the very long trip to Ethiopia to meet our baby boy. I can remember that day vividly. As I picked up that beautiful, terrified, tiny little man...I wept deeply. I could feel the depth of what was happening, of this story God had crafted to knit our family together...and I knew what this child had already been through at the tender age of nine months. I believe part of me was weeping for him. I was happy that we were adding another child, but I deeply grieved the loss of his biological relatives and of his country. Adoption is complicated, but children need families...more than sharing genes and honoring heritage...they need someone who's eyes light up when they walk in a room. They need siblings with whom they can do life, they need parents to read them stories at night, they need dads who wrestle and mamas who will kiss their boo-boos and comfort them when they are afraid. Children do not bloom in orphanages - under any circumstances...but even some of the most broken children blossom in families.
When I look back over Caleb's transformation in the last three years, I am amazed. I'm pretty astounded by my own evolution as well. :) He has gone from a sad and scared infant with vacant eyes to a child so full of life and laughter and exuberance that he is hard to contain. I have gone from a woman who thought she knew the answers to a mom who embraces the fact that I actually know very little...and each day, I am more thankful that it is not up to me. Caleb's eyes twinkle, his laugh is infectious and I love him fiercely. To see what God has done, how he has healing and growing this little boy's heart, how he is refining me in the process...how Caleb fits perfectly and completely into our family...it is miraculous. 

If there is even a whisper from God in your heart that adoption might be for you...please pursue it. You may not feel as if you are capable of handling another child, but the good news is, that God will meet you. If you step out in faith, He will give you what you need. These are children. They didn't ask for this and they don't deserve this kind of pain. They are children who have lost so much. They are hungry, lonely and afraid...and they need us to give up a little bit of our free time, a little of our money, a little more of ourselves...so that they might have a chance to truly live.

Today we are celebrating three years with Caleb. It has come to be called Ethiopia Day in our house because it is a family occasion. We usually go out for Ethiopian food and all of the kids receive small gifts...in an effort to get everyone excited to share in their brother's birth culture, to remember his story. This little boy has been one of the greatest blessings of our lives and I shudder to think what we would have missed had we not been willing to take the risk...to take each scary little step to reach him. It would have been so easy to stay stuck in "our plan" and in our weak and selfish excuses...but we would have missed what God was trying to do. Please...if He is beginning to call you...listen. You don't have to leap over the chasm, all you must do is take that next baby step. 

Caleb Gebremedin Alemayehu...

you have made me a better mama and I delight in you. 

1 comment:

Heather said...

Hello, I happened upon your blog, linked from another blog. My daughter is nearing the end of her year-long cancer treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma. Like you (or at least, as it appears), I have three biological children but have thought about adopting a fourth. Yet, after the ordeal of cancer I wonder whether I can and should do it. Your blog makes me think that I still have a lot of thinking to do!