It feels like it was weeks ago that we left our son to come back home. The 28 hour journey home really makes you lose track of time. As we were unpacking, starting our laundry, and trying to get our house in order for the upcoming week I kept going back to one single thought, "How do I go about acting/feeling/appearing normal when I just experienced something so beautiful just a few days ago? How do I go about my daily business after being able to hug, kiss, bathe, care for, read to, play with, feed, and love on my little boy when I'm now not able to do those things any longer."
And I think that's where I'm stuck right now. I'm so thankful and feel tremendously blessed for our week in the DRC. My heart bursts when I see how well Joelle is doing. The fact that she is home is such a HUGE blessing because she could still be there today. I'm also comforted in knowing that our littlest guy is in a great foster home where he is being loved, cared for, taken to church, and fed. I hold to the fact that God called us to adopt and cares for my children way greater than I ever could. I cling to His faithfulness and how He has always been so good to my family.
So, even though it's tough...real tough...leaving our brother bear thousands of miles away, I want to reflect on the good things. I wish I could show him off and flaunt pictures of his flashy smile and chubby cheeks. I can't wait for the day to be able to do that. For now, I'm going to recap some of the blessings...
Joelle did AWESOME on this trip. She slept on the planes, ate like a champ, and had the best attitude for traveling so much in such a little amount of time. She was a trooper when we had to show little brother more attention than her. Did she get jealous? Absolutely. We kept reaffirming her that she is loved, she is beautiful, and she's the best thing that has ever happened to our family. Let me tell you... little brother will never have to do a thing on his own. She was there to pick him up, hold a hand, wait on him hand and foot, and play with cars even though she'd rather not. She cleaned up after him, fetched his toys when they would roll under the bed, and helped with his clothes/shoes whenever she had the chance. That little girl is going to be one heck of a mama one day. She's just a natural.
Jared took Joelle on a little date to the fabric market. They stopped by the hotel room we stayed in when we brought her home. I love that Jared thought of that... how special to remind her of those precious days!
We had the best seats on all six of our flights. On a row of four, we always had an extra seat, giving us plenty of room to stretch out. There were hardly no delays, no need to rush from plane to plane, and no set backs in around 60 hours of traveling. Besides just being tired and achey, we are all good to go!
Goodness, he's a sweet little mess, y'all. He cried/moped for about an hour after we first met him. He was scared, in shock, and just unsure of what was going on. You have to remember there is a HUGE language barrier. He knows NO English, so we couldn't explain what was happening or defend ourselves in any way. After about an hour, some food, a nap and a bath he really warmed up to us. When he woke up from that first nap it was like he was a new little man! He and Joelle played with cars, kicked/threw the ball back and forth, watched some movies, and played a lot of tickle monster. I think Jared said it best when he said something along the lines of... everyone wants interaction and relationships. It's so true! We just had to get from wanting to watch, hold, and observe his every little move so that we could interact, get down on his level, and do silly things to make him comfortable.
Here are some things we learned about him:
He is an incredible eater... messy, but incredible. He will try anything. In our time together he ate pizza, hamburgers, fries, spaghetti, powdered donuts (his favorite!!), chocolate pudding, applesauce, muffins, crackers, cookies, fruit snacks, and lots more junk food... ha! We will work on being healthy later on ;)
He wears his snot, food, and spit on his shirt at all times.
He covers his eyes when he is upset or sleepy.
He doesn't like dogs... and swats at them to go away (Sorry, Marley!!)
He learned to love brushing his teeth and would stick out his tongue for me after a few tries.
During his last shower he was all smiles and tried to use a loofah on his own. He got the hang of things really fast!
He has great fine motor skills. I think he will be right-handed, but he still uses both to color, throw, complete tasks.
He wears diapers, which is nice because he can't communicate potty procedures just yet!
He prefers to be clothed with his shoes on, but doesn't get upset if you undress him either.
He would reach his arms up to us to be held. He took well to all three of us... didn't prefer on over the other.
We brought several cars for him and he was always willing to share with Joelle even if she didn't ask. He would just hand her an extra when they were playing.
He will definitely follow every move Joelle makes. He observed her every little action. And, let's face it, she loved every minute of it!!
The only time he would whine was when his car would go under the bed or if we told him no (he wanted to throw his cars on people's head and for some reason we wouldn't let him, ha!). He responded well to us correcting him even if it took him a few minutes.
He's quite the sleeper! He slept between 10-12 hours each night and took 1-2 hour naps during the day. If you wake him up early he will cry for a minute, but give him a snack and your his best friend again ;)
He doesn't have to be entertained at all times. He sat patiently at the Embassy for over 2 hours while we waited to file paperwork.
He will sit on the floor and play with a ball or his cars for long periods of time. This is HUGE! It took Joelle over a year to be able to do this, and still prefers to be with people rather than play by herself.
He didn't cry when we left but he definitely shut down when he saw his foster mom. He loves that lady to pieces so for him to have adjusted to us in such a short amount of time was a great thing! We left him with pictures, clothes, toys, snacks, etc so that he could be reminded of us. We are praying that when we are reunited he remembers that he can trust us and knows we will take care of him. Of course... he is two... so that could all be forgotten by then!!!
I could go on and on and on and on, but I won't bore you with every little detail. I've been asked a lot about his age/size. He is 2 1/2 (birthday is October 13), and wears a 2T although that's still a little big for him. I brought a pair of 3T shorts and they literally fell right off his body!
Oh, and we have no idea when he is coming home. Best case scenario would be this summer, but there are no certainties when it comes to adoption. Thank you to everyone who prayed for our trip and our little guy. I'll post about our other little guy later and why we didn't get to see him also. That's a whole different story for a different blog post :)