Thursday, January 19, 2012
I stare at this screen, at that photo, through blurry, tear filled eyes. My emotions are right on the surface bubbling up and threatening to spill out all over this post. I want to do this justice, so that I can share the experience, but my words will always, always fall short. It seems as if we had waited an excruciatingly long time to meet him. When in reality it was only just a little over four months. We had chosen him, pretty much the moment our eyes landed on his photograph. The fact that he had "special needs" was of little merit, all that mattered was that he was the one we were waiting for - he was our son - our child, knit into our heart by a sovereign, merciful Creator. Our thoughts, prayers, emotions, finances had all been building up, getting ready, for this exact moment.
On this day, one year ago, we met, kissed, came face to face with our son, Jameson Yonas. We wrapped our arms around a minuscule and yet very tangible representation of our redemption in Jesus Christ. Our world collided with Ethiopia, and we came face to face with God's heart for orphans as we took one into our embrace and burrowed him deep into our hearts. He left the arms of his nanny as an orphan and entered our arms as a cherished, beloved, sought-after son. And how much more has God done that for us in our spiritual adoption? I was given the gift of new eyes when God painted me into this picture on this day, one year ago.
I remember landing in Addis the night before (close to midnight I believe) we were to meet our son. I strained my eyes through the darkness outside the tiny window in the plane anxious to see something of this foreign country that birthed my son. A lump immediately formed thick and burning in my throat. We are here, we are here, my heart practically beat through my chest. I was a ball of nervous energy and exhaustion. Customs was easy, and soon we were through security in this tiny airport in the capital city. My eyes drank in the sight of the beautiful Ethiopian people around me. I stared. Watching them, memorizing their culture, their body language, their gestures. We are here, we are here. I immediately felt frumpy in my comfy travel clothes and "bottle cap-lensed" glasses that I had been wearing for 48 hours. The people were stunning with their satiny, velvet, milk chocolate skin, perfectly curled exotic hair, and lithe, lean bodies. Beauty surrounded us, and I was mesmerized by God's creation of these people. Surely He had taken extra time with Ethiopians!
Dawit, our driver, must have spotted us a mile away. I wonder what gave us away? Perhaps it was our pasty white skin, our bedraggled appearance, the shell-shocked look on our faces, or maybe it was the oodles of donation bins and suitcases we dragged behind us. He immediately came over flashing his sideways grin, and then our guide, T, hopped up off the floor, took out his ear bud and introduce himself. I was mesmerized. I stared. These men knew my son. They had held him, seen him, and would take us to him after a night's rest. We are here, we are here.
Walking outside the airport I was immediately hit by warm, dry air. We had left bitter cold NY weather. And people, everywhere. Confusion, cars, vans, people swirled in front of me. I struggled to pull my luggage and keep up, eyes hungry to see it all. As we bumped down the potted streets in the fifteen passenger van, I wondered what side of the road we were supposed to be on? It seemed as if we were using it all, and even the sidewalks at times. My face was pressed up against the glass of the van. Jim reached over me and opened the window. Music and laughter and shouting and barking and honking floated in at us, and smells. Smells of garbage and decay, of poverty, of frankincense, of mystery wafted in and introduced itself to us. I gasped as I saw men and women and children making the broken down sidewalks, literally next to garbage, their beds for the night. The sights, the sounds of those moments are what I drifted off to sleep to that night in our little cozy bed, anxious to meet our son the next day.
The actual day is a blur. I remember meeting other families adopting through AWAA, eating breakfast, falling in love with the fresh squeezed pineapple juice, the strong black coffee, and the exotic breakfast foods. But just like the night before it was the people that mesmerized me - the cook and his easy smile and gentle eyes, the lady behind the desk and her kindness, her soft lilting voice, our guides and our driver. It was happening already, God was embedding the people of Ethiopia into a permanent place in my heart.
We got our schedule for the week and a chance to talk with our guides and adoption friends for much of the morning. Then we went for what seemed to be an excruciatingly long lunch at a little Italian restaurant in an Ethiopian art gallery. I was quickly learning that Ethiopia had one pace - slow. And I would grow to love it, but that day all I wanted to do was fast forward the lunch and hold my son. I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, not really understanding the money conversion, and ate without tasting a thing. My heart was beating in my throat, and my hands were trembling and clammy.
But really before I knew it we were crammed back inside of that van and headed for the moment that would change our life forever. This next part I have written about before. I wrote it last year, soon after our meetcha moment.
How do I put into words....
the emotions of this moment, this culmination of so much prayer, anticipation. I am inadequate. It was everything and nothing like I had imagined. As our van bumped down the street that held the Transition Home, that held my son, my heart beat out of sync, clapping against my chest manically. Tears spilled at my lids, as the America World sign came into view. Then those gates, oh those gates that I had seen in countless other adopting family's photos and videos. Only this time they were real....there....before me. As the gates opened my heart began to thrash even more wildly. My eyes blurred, my throat burned. We were the first family alphabetically to meet our child. This was it. No more waiting. No more wondering.
We handed off cameras, and stood on the porch.
What to expect?
What to expect? My heart beat out.
The moments seemed to slow to an eternity, and then he was there before us, being brought to us. He was woken from a nap for our moment, and terrified. He cried huge crocodile tears, and as I held him to my thumping chest his chest beat out a similar rhythm as mine. Wild. Flesh, blood, hearts. My son. The one that God sewed into my heart the very first time I learned of Ethiopia and her orphans.
My hands were so hungry to know him, his curls- soft and springy, his skin- chocolate satin, his cheeks and neck begged to be kissed, and my lips found them over and over, as his tears splashed me wet and warm. He smells of Africa. I smell of another world, and it frightened him. He would bury his head in my neck and nuzzle in my shoulders, and then quickly withdraw from the foreignness of my scent, my shape.
Jim reached out to him. Daddy, son, they were perfect as their tears mingled.
I wondered if it would feel anything like real love. And it did. It does. He settled. He slept in our arms for hours, we began to bond over a bottle, and rice, and songs and dance. Giggles, little hands exploring my face, my hair, and my hands mimicking back.
He is my son. Heart of my heart.
The dance has begun.
And on this day, one year later, we remember the dance and it continues and expands, as we wait for the day we bring home another.
But for now on this day we rejoice, we give thanks, and we marvel that God could call our family to something so beautiful as this. I know not all are called to adoption, but if you feel that gentle, knowing - that tugging that can only come from the Holy Spirit, let me assure you that it is hard, heart breaking, and lonely. Adoption will break you and change you and destroy the life you once knew. But none of that matters and it pales in comparison to the gloriously, beautiful, perfect way that adoption becomes worth it all when we see our adoption in Jesus Christ for what it truly is.
Adoption is the highest possibly BLESSING that we received in our redemption in Jesus.
In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.