It seems unreal that just two months ago, a little prince, whom we’ve named Gabriel, was placed in our arms. My husband and I traveled halfway around the world to Henan, China to receive him in Zhengzhou. Our first experience with such a day happened at nearly the same exact time of year in 2009. Back then our Joel (the “Thai Tornado” from Bangkok!) walked in the room, having just turned 3 years old, and was all smiles. He came straight to his daddy’s lap and has never looked back. We believed Gabe may be a different story. At only 18 months old and having spent nearly all of his short life in comfort with a foster family, we were prepared for a lot of tears and grief and struggle for our baby. And the thought of it broke our hearts.
Who we met that Monday was a wonderfully brave little prince. Not a tear fell though he was definitely working hard to hold it all together. What our children go through and how they are able to cope is a miracle. He was perfect. And even though he was very timid, and noticeably stoic and unemotional, within an hour his sweet but hardened face gave way to giggles. We had our son, and he had us, for forever.
Other than the fact that Gabe was struggling with bronchitis, our trip was picture perfect. We flew home 10 days after receiving him and arrived at the airport to the other loves of our lives. Two sisters and the Tornado were anxiously awaiting his homecoming. And in hindsight, he was awaiting them as well. Thanks to technology like FaceTime, that we used several times a day while in China, Gabe got to know his siblings before we ever set foot back in the States. And unlike other strangers, whom he will not readily approach, he met his brother and sisters with wide mouth kisses! To their delight, it was clear he recognized them.
It’s only been a month, but Gabe continues settle into his new life here. He is bonding beautifully and showing wonderful signs of attachment. The first few days were hard with jet lag and a horrible sickness that Jason and I brought home with us.
On our third day home, Joel took matters into his own hands and decided to make him and Gabe a sandwich to share. I had to pull myself out of bed to snap a few shots of this moment … these boys becoming brothers was something I couldn’t miss, sick or not!
Homeschooling three kids (7th, 4th and kindergarten) has become more of a challenge with an 18 month old in the house! Every day, we are finding our stride more and more. Re-entry is hard! But moments like this one with Gabe and his sister, Sydney, help me to realize that it’s all worth it. Here, he climbed up in her lap to give some pointers about the math problems she was working!
We have had people tell us over the past several weeks, that our family, our sons in particular, are the very face of adoption for them. And if that is true, then WACAP is definitely the hands and feet that go along with those beautiful faces. We cannot imagine partnering with anyone else to bring our children home. Every need, even the ones we didn’t anticipate or know we had, were met by our guides on the ground in China and by our caseworkers here at home throughout the entire process.
As we celebrate National Adoption Month this November, it’s easy for me to be grateful. Grateful for our sons, for WACAP and for the countless children worldwide who keep hope alive, who keep holding on to the hope of a forever family. Children like Gabe, who cry out in the night for a mama that they don’t know or who simply long to crawl up in a lap and be loved. They are my heroes and by grace, I have the privilege of calling two of them my sons.