It's Not Always Easy

I ran across this blog last week.
Her post about "After the Airport" resonated very deeply with me. She is an incredible writer. Very honest and open and insightful about her family's adoption journey. I read it late in the evening, and when I went to bed that night I grabbed Meta out of his bed and put him into bed with me. I just wanted him close to me. My heart was heavy for him. And all he's been through.
So often when we tell our adoption story or we're out with Meta or even with family and friends who know him so well; the talk goes toward how blessed he is. What a miracle he is. How fortunate he was to be chosen, and moved into our family. I understand why the conversation often goes that way. Anyone who has seen photographs of 3rd world countries understands that his life now is far more comfortable than his life in Ethiopia. It's easy to imagine that a life with school and clothes and *good* food and a brother and sister and grandparents and aunts and uncles and a mom and a dad and craigs cruisers is so much more than his old life. He is blessed. He was chosen. And yet his life is not easy. It's not without pain. He has suffered enormous loss in his 5 short years. That's the part of his story that doesn't get talked about a lot.
My neice turns 3 this October. I watch her interact with her Mom and Dad. The love and trust she has for them is almost palpatable. For her Grandparents. For her life. She is trusting and dependant (even though she's getting more and more independent every day). She has routines. She has friends. She has food and places and things that she loves. Meta was a little older than her when he was relinquished to an orphanage. When everything in his world was turned upside down. When I imagine this happening to children I know and love, at that "not so young age"; my head won't let my heart even go there. I can not imagine. I don't want to. It would hurt too much to even consider. And yet that's exactly what happened to Meta.
It is good for me to remember. It causes me to pause when he's acting up and ask myself why. It gives me more patience. It helps me understand him just a little more. It gives me compassion for my son. I remind him often that we are his family forever. No matter what. Forever. And I pray that he believes me.
Adoption includes loss. It also includes lots and lots of blessings. But today, for whatever reason, my heart is thinking about the loss. And I think that's OK.


2 new neices

In my last post (just yesterday for those of you keeping track!) I did not mention that I became an Aunt twice this summer. I didn't mention it because it deserves it's very own post.
My younger sister Julie had a very sweet, very cuddly, very healthy Macy RuthAnne this July. She is content and happy and oh so beautiful. Seriously beautiful. I am not one of those people who thinks every baby is cute. Macy is. For sure. Macy is one blessed little girl for a lot of reasons but one of the biggest is that she has an older sister Elise. Another little girl I love to death. Also beautiful. Also content and happy and very very sweet. Although she is in her twos now and has some opinions. But I love that too. Girls who are strong and even a little demanding make me smile. It will serve them well later in life.
Macy has a sister Elise. I can not think of a better way to start out life than with a sister. She is one blessed little girl.
My youngest sister, Abby also had a baby this summer. Sweet little Avery Leanne (Lea after Jessica LEA and Anne after Julie ANNE) was due to arrive mid November. She made her entrance into the world this August. For those of you who know anything about babies, you know that being born at 26 weeks gestation is NOT a good thing. For those of you who know anything about my God, you know that He is a God who answers prayers. And in the case of Avery He has answered in incredible ways.
It has been uplifting and encouraging and just plain wonderful to watch Abby & Mike's families and friends and coworkers, and even complete strangers bring this little girl before the Lord. She is stable and growing and holding her own. Another little girl who is blessed beyond belief. The nurses in DeVos NICU have actually called her feisty at times. I like that too. It's pretty obvious she's going to take after her mother.
Two new neices to love. Two little girls who will call me "Aunt Jess". Two new people to sit around Bush Family Lunch on Sundays. I'm not sure it can get any louder, but I have a feeling Avery and Macy will prove me wrong. Life is so fragile. It's so unpredictable. And it's also very very beautiful.


higher priorities

I've always disliked it when Moms complain about how "busy" they are. A pastor of mine used to use this line ... "You aren't too busy to do that thing you said you would do, you just made something else a higher priority". That is so true. I haven't been too busy to write a blog post, I've just chosen to do other things.
I'm not sure why. I get a lot of joy out of writing. I like to organize my thoughts. And yet, my life has been very full. We moved in May (moving is a LOT of work, in case you didn't know). Then summer came on out of nowhere. 3 kids home all day long. I am SO blessed to be able to summer with them! Who else has a better job than that??? Boating, beaching, the pool, our new house has lots to do outside (fishing, quading, swimming, catching critters, exploring). We spent time with friends and each other. We made some new friends. We missed our old neighbors. We took a week at the beach with 18 of my favorite Hoekstras. We saw a Tiger's game. Ella and I spent some girl time in Chicago. We ate ice cream and biked and watched a LOT of Noah's baseball games (he played travel ball this year). I read a lot of books. I did a lot of grilling. I got a CSA box from the Farmer's Market every Wednesday. I even attempted to mow the lawn, and ran over a mole trap in the process. Opps!
The kids started school this week. Meta started Kindergarten. I followed his bus the first day (is that wierd??) and he literally BOUNCED down the steps, like he owned the place. He is going to LOVE school. I miss the kids while they're gone, but maybe now I'll write some more blog posts!
Ella turned 9 on Tuesday. Where does that time go? I swear I would give up years of my own life to slow it down a bit for my kids. These are great ages. I love being such a big part of their lives. Everyone said when they were babies time would fly. I didn't believe them. Now I do. I really really do.
And so, that's 5 months in a few short paragraphs. I'll write more later. Promise. And sorry for the lack of pictures. The internet out in the sticks is, well, let's just say it's less than ideal.



Meta turns 5 today. We've been talking about his birthday since March 4th of last year (the day after his last birthday). This kid loves birthdays!

When we first came home from ET, we celebrated his sister's birthday. Then a bunch of cousins and neighbors and school friends. He wondered if it would ever be his turn. Then it was and he realized how quickly it went. So he started looking forward to 5. And today is the day!! I'm betting tomorrow we'll start talking about when he will turn 6. As frustrated as I get somedays with his constant "looking ahead", I know that I'm the same way too.

It's been a whirlwind year since birthday #4. It has been such a nice change to be done with the "firsts". To be honest, I'm enjoying this "2nd birthday in America" so much more than the first. We don't even call it that ... it's just Meta's 5th birthday. Last year was a big deal. His first birthday cake, his first birthday party, his first birthday gifts, and on and on and on. It's nice to be able to *just* do a 5th birthday, without all the pressure. Without all the explaining. It's nice to just be able to "be".

Although I've been here, done this once before; the day continues to be a bit of an anomoly for me. It's odd to not have been there on my son's birth day. I don't know what the weather was like, what time of day he was born, what he looked like, how he smelled, whether he cried or shrieked, how he ate or slept or pooped. I didn't get to be his Mom until he was 3. I don't even know what day he actually came into this world.

And so March 3 is kind of wierd for me. As much as my feelings for him are the same as the other 2, the birthday is not. I'm going to be celebrating in July when he will have been home 2 years. I'll celebrate the day we scooped him out of that orhpanage and fed him and bathed him and read to him and tucked him in that night. The day we threw a ball and watched videos and looked at pictures and sang songs. The day we smelled him and touched him and held him and whispered to him and even counted his toes. That's the day I celebrate.

We're going to Chuck E Cheese tomorrow with some of his friends. We bought him a gift and a cake and will sing "happy birthday" and snap pictures and do all the birthday stuff.

Every adoption story, no matter how great it is, includes loss. I used to not "get that" like I do now. Maybe you have to be in the story to really understand what the loss looks like, feels like, smells like; or maybe I'm just a slow learner. Either way, days like this remind me of some of that unique pain that adopted kids and families have to walk through. That is why, between you and me, I'm saving my celebrating for July.


The gift I can't Give

There are so many ways to give this time of year. I've been wrapping gifts for my kids, buying stuff for friends and family. We're helping a single Mom from church buy gifts for her boys this year, the kids are collecting baby items for Lakeshore Pregnancy Center, we bought a few toys for a mom from Harbor House to give to her 1 year old son, we're helping stock the food pantry for families in Pullman, we brought food for our church's "meal deal". Lots of ways to help; lots of ways to give back; lots of ways to be a blessing to others.

And yet, as I scurry and hurry and buy and wrap, my heart is not as light as it used to be. There are a few gifts I SO YEARN to give and I can't.

Part of me is still in Ethiopia.

Sitting in a park with my son's mother.

Knowing she doesn't have much.

Knowing her daughter isn't in school.

Knowing food is hard to come by, not to mention clothes, shoes, medicines.

Chances are she isn't worried this Christmas about what to stuff in the stockings, or if she should prepare ham or turkey for Christmas dinner. She's not wondering what to give to her neice or father or cousin. She's not going to play Bingo or put a dollar in the kettle outside of the store. Her husband won't be building a fire on Christmas Eve and they won't gather around their Christmas Tree they cut down as a family.

Oh that I could send a few presents her way. Or better yet, invite her to sit at my table this Christmas. Oh that I could bless her just a fraction of the way she has blessed me. What a day that would be! The things we could talk about! Laugh about! Cry about! I'd love to hear what Meta was like as a baby. When he took his first steps. What he looked like with just a few baby teeth. I'd love to show her how joyful he is. How he loves his brother and sister. How well he's drawing, learning letters, singing songs, fitting in. How. Much. He. Is. Loved.

The thought of her leaves my heart aching. And the tears fall.

I know that the same God who looks down on me with love, is looking down on her. And so I continue to do as she asked me to ... when I pray for myself I pray for her as well. That she would be blessed. That she would be loved. That she would have her daily bread.

On days like this I give Felmata an extra kiss. I hold him a little longer. I recommit to teaching him as much as I can about Jesus, and continue to pray for his soul so that someday, we can all be reunited again. Because, for now, that's all I can do.

"He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth" Isaiah 25:6-8