"What did you say?" I asked.
"I told him that when he was older we could go back to Guatemala to visit, but I don't know where they are."
I was in tears at this point. I knew this day would come... I knew that one day he was going to be curious, to ask questions. I prayed that this day wouldn't come for many, many more years. Six years was not long enough to prepare to hear my baby boy call someone else his "mom".
"I don't want to talk about this right now," I whispered to Blake as I finished setting the table for dinner. I called the kids to the kitchen and watched Will race Riley to the table... My little brown skinned, black haired boy and his fair skinned, light haired sister.
Part of the reason I don't want to talk about it is selfishness. I traveled to Guatemala to bring him home. I spent 6 long months longing to rock my baby boy to sleep. I am the one who knows that he loves chocolate milk, but would never drink white milk. But the main reason I don't want to talk about where he came from is that I worry about his sensitive, tender 6 year old heart... The twins pregnancy stirred the questions. He is such a smart little boy and so inquisitive... "Did I grow in your belly mommy?" "Do you remember the day I was born?"
Blake and I decided long ago that we were going to be sensitive and age-appropriately (is that a word) honest. I think that it makes it much less awkward for it to seem like a normal conversation. Our answers to these questions have varied... "God had you grow in another woman's belly and then mommy and daddy came to Guatemala to get you and bring you home." "The lady in Guatemala whose belly you grew in couldn't take care of you so she let Mommy and Daddy come and get you because we love you." "God wanted our family to have a little boy from Guatemala so he gave us you!" Nothing sounds perfect. Nothing sounds just right.
I felt like I was still reeling as we climbed into bed that night. My mind was leaping forward to arguments with Will as a teenager. Will he ask us every time we discipline him if it's because he was adopted? Will he struggle with self-worth because the man who gave him his DNA left before he was born? Will he ever try to run away to Guatemala when he is grounded?
This... This is the nitty-gritty of adoption. To me, the hard part is not the paperwork, or the waiting, or the unexpected delays. While overwhelming at times and disappointing in the moment, it will all be a distant memory a year after you bring that precious child home. They are the adoptive mother's labor pains - unbearable in the moment, but wiped from your mind such a short time later. To me, the dirty is not dealing with the aftermath of behavior issues. While it takes God given grace, I know that my DNA could have resulted in a child that responds just as passionately, as emotional as Will. I honestly just see him as "one of my kids" as we have dealt with his many, many issues over the years. To me, that is just parenting! All issues that have come up, would have, whether he was adopted or not. Training behavior and modifying attitudes and spending 30 minutes at the table waiting for him to eat his corn because last night he liked it and tonight he doesn't - that is just doing what a parent does.
The nitty-gritty of adoption is answering the questions, "Whose belly did I grow in?" because he wants so badly to hear your memories of a pregnancy I simply did not have. The nitty-gritty is somehow telling him that you don't know how you could ever find the woman that holds the memories he craves. The nitty-gritty of adoption are those tearful conversations Blake and I share at night in the dark... Wondering how much to say and how to say it because Will is becoming increasingly more curious.
I want him to be confident in my love. I want him to be confident in himself. I want him to be confident in the Father's plan for his precious life. I want him to know that I don't pretend to know how he feels. I want him to know how special the lady that carried him found him - to choose life! These are not, "I don't play soccer as well as my sister," self-esteem issues. These are the kind of self-esteem issues that need Christ.
Adoption is hard. There is much to wade through and I'm not attempting to downplay a second of it. But as I think about how much I complained about in the beginning... How hard I thought it was. Well, I was wrong. I was selfish. I was so focused on the here and now and didn't pray enough about Will's future. My ability to see the big picture was clouded. Will has been home for 6 years on August 3, and we are just now getting to nitty-gritty. He is just now beginning to understand what it means that he was adopted. Six years and the hard part is just beginning... I pray for his heart - that Jesus will save it soon and that it will be enough. I pray for his soul - for peace and contentment.
I imagined that the hardest part of adoption was going to be the actual adoption - the paperwork and court date and trip to Guatemala. Little did I know then that the work was just beginning. Then, as we dealt with doctors and therapy and surgery... I imagined that this part was the hardest part. I was wrong again. So wrong. As long and as hard and as difficult as the last 6 years have been, I am most terrified of the next 20. But it's so worth it... The questions. The doubts. The nitty-gritty. Even that is joy for me, because it's about Will. With Will. For Will. But, I have it easy. I am confident in my love for him... confident that I would not change a thing about him. Confident that I am the lucky one.