Dear DJ’s forever family,
I have a confession to make: Over the last four weeks, I have fallen in love with your son. And not just in love – head over heels, passionately-madly-deeply, I’ve-been-swallowing-tears-every-time-adoption-songs-play-on-the-radio in love with this sweet boy who now grasps my face in his two hands and asks, “Ayi cry on Thursday?” as he stares into my eyes to check for the gleam of impending tears.
He is a gem, this future son of yours, and as I watch him sleep from across the hotel room (I watch, because this way-too-close farewell is keeping me from any chance of sleep myself), my heart breaks at the thought of saying goodbye to him in a few short hours.
These four weeks, they have flown by. It seems like only yesterday we were carrying our superhero’s flat figure around our town, praying for him and wondering about him, and now, we’re saying goodbye to the 3D version we have eaten with, played with and been amazed by for an entire month. There haven’t been enough hours in the day to observe and marvel at the ins and outs of this superhero, who never ceases to astound us with his flexibility, his adaptability and his LOVE. We feel like we are only BEGINNING this journey into understanding and appreciating this special, special boy.
The only reason we can let him go today with any peace at all is because we know that, in a few short months, YOUR sweet family, who we have ALSO fallen in love with, will be picking up where we left off (and filling in all the gaps where we just completely and utterly FAILED!) and continuing this journey — until forever.
This boy you’re going to meet — he is nothing short of extraordinary. And my throat tightens now just thinking about what a blessing he has been to us this month.
Having gotten this special month-long glimpse into YOUR family’s beautiful hearts, I know you will treasure HIS. This heart that has loved so big and expanded so large – the same heart that gave up backpack space in his one and only bag he gets to take home to China in order to purchase trains to give to his FRIENDS — it is tender and it is beautiful and it is SO primed and READY to experience unconditional LOVE.
Because this heart GIVES love so, so well.
In the form of hugs. In the form of back pats on sad days. In the form of the nurture and care he’s shown to everyone from our 18-year-old niece, who he tucked into bed and turned off the lights for the day she was staying at our house and feeling ill, to his host brothers.
He loves these boys in such beautiful ways, and the bond that he and our youngest superhero especially have formed in just the last week — it melts my heart. I can hardly hold myself together as I watch our youngest leap on this superhero’s back and this gracious boy just hug him and hold him and joke with him as he exhibits the patience of a SAINT for the 5-year-old ball of energy who has made HIM his new obsession.
Last Sunday, DJ wrote his own nametag for children’s church. Normally, he writes his name in Chinese characters. On Sunday, he wrote “DJ” in English, and then, under “special instructions,” wrote Superhero 3’s name.
Confused, we asked him what that meant.
DJ’s reply: “I go him.”
This boy, who has become the self-appointed guardian of our little Superman, wanted to attend the preschool classroom. So he didn’t have to be away from his littlest brother for even an hour. THOSE were his special instructions to US.
And he cares for ALL these boys with that same protective spirit.
He cuddles up in blanket forts with Superhero 2 and he constantly searches out and checks on Superhero 1. Although he thoroughly enjoys independent play and frequently plays his own games or Legos BESIDE our superhero crew, he always makes sure they’re in sight. In reach. All together.
This sensitive heart — there’s almost nothing like it. And observing and falling in LOVE with that heart will be one of the joys of your entire life.
I hope you marvel at this superhero’s helpfulness and responsibility. Without ever being asked, this incredible helper washes dishes, loads dishwashers, starts laundry, makes beds and asks for chores on cleaning Saturdays that he executes BETTER than the three superheroes who have been doing them for five, seven and 10 years.
I didn’t realize he could cook (he has better knife skills than me) or prepare entire meals (he makes a mean garlic and red onion sandwich) or ORGANIZE (every bin, basket and game box with 500 tiny, broken, why-did-someone-love-me-so-much-as-to-gift-my-children-this-vacuuming-accident-waiting-to-happen pieces) — until we gave him permission to have free range in the kitchen and in the game room and in the bedroom … and we watched as he left every room cleaner than he found it (minus the underwear that, in all 30 days in our home, never once made it to the laundry basket).
Please, for the love of all things hygienic, appreciate this boy’s amazing personal care skills. I realize you have six children and have been around the parenting block three more time than me. But you’ve never had BOYS. And so you may not realize the MIRACLE you will have in a boy who brushes his teeth without arguing, makes his bed without complaining, changes his underwear without reminding and loves SHOWERS as much as he loves DIRT. We don’t know how you make a boy like this, but we have marveled at this strange male creature for 30 entire days trying to figure out how to carbon copy him.
The whole boymom world is in bitter envy at this very second.
If you really want to make this clean-loving boy’s day, give this food lover strawberry ice cream (pronounced in Chinese like “bean ja-lean” — learn the word now, Padawan, and save yourself hours of Google translation when he requests this special treat at every not-so-special time. Namely, after every meal). And red onions (on EVERYTHING, pumpkin waffles, too). And whole garlic gloves (and cue Costco membership you can use to buy THIS item in BULK). And Coke.
Since we don’t keep soda in the house, this resourceful boy went to desperate measures to acquire it, from trying to not-casually-at-all steal the glasses of other Coke drinkers in random restaurants (“I’m sorry, sir, please excuse my friend who is now attempting to drink from your very straw while you turn your head — he lives in an orphanage in China and his host mother won’t even let him have a soda, can you believe the nerve?”) to giving Grandma his puppy eyes until she asked if she could sneak him some under the table when the other superheroes weren’t visiting.
Yesterday, we decided to celebrate this superhero’s last day in the country by allowing him to have the soda he’s been begging to drink for a month — in the form of a tour of the Atlanta Coca-Cola museum.
If allowing him to pee on every bush on our property didn’t do it, I’m pretty sure the Coke museum just cemented our roles as coolest ayi and shu shu of all time.
If you really want to earn brownie points, take a picnic basket of garlic, onions, Coke and strawberry ice cream to a dog park. (He is OBSESSED with petting dogs of all kind and colors.) Or a swimming pool (after trips to two aquariums, four museums, two beaches, two campgrounds, one splash pad and one adventure golf center, this boy was the MOST impressed by Grandma’s pool — and, after each of the other adventures, asked if he could now go there, please, since he so patiently put up with our hosting shenanigans).
Or give him the opportunity to try something new.
His eyes lit up when he attended Superhero 1’s guitar lessons, and he BEAMED when given the opportunity to participate in two of Superhero 2’s tae kwon do classes. He’s not afraid to try new things, and he boldly jumps into the fray with all the confidence in the world. Nothing, not even a Superman hand that doesn’t function like the rest of the world’s, holds him back. He is a courageous overcomer, and we are CONFIDENT that he is going to CHANGE THIS WORLD.
In the meantime, please forgive us for the ways we have ruined him. We apologize in advance for his emulation of Superhero 1, who insists on wearing nothing but a robe and underwear around the house, and for his new passion for public nudity. (No, DJ, you cannot jump on the trampoline unless you are at least wearing some SHORTS. Trust me, that thing is not going to feel good flying all up in here like Dumbo.)
We also apologize for this boy’s palate, which Superhero 1 has now expanded to include artichokes, sushi, raw fish and lobster. A month ago, this boy who eats EVERYTHING was content with just spaghetti.
I promise if you text me pictures of your Costco receipts, we can commiserate together!
Finally, TREASURE this boy. Cherish him. Value every amazing skill, wonder at every amazing moment. Don’t be afraid to redo those early years he missed in your family. He may weigh 70 pounds, but this sweet superhero CRAVES the love and attention and hugs and holds he sees parents of toddlers giving to their children. Make it your life mission to restore these moments he missed so early in life. Don’t be afraid of the haters who will ask you why you need to carry a 10-year-old through a museum. Ignore those who judge you when they see you doing things that OTHER families got the PRIVILEGE of doing for their 1-, 2- and 3-year-old children.
Their children weren’t robbed of childhoods.
Their little ones grew up in the security of arms that held tight.
Their children experienced HUGS before the age of 10.
Yours didn’t. And although he has had a Father who has held him tight for one long decade, that Father is now trusting YOU to be HIS hands and feet. To love HIM with the same heart that He has loved your son so well. To serve and sacrifice and love as passionately as YOUR FATHER has loved YOU.
Do the hard things. Be in the game on hard days. And when this adoption stuff gets tough and this superhero you are going to love so much doesn’t act as loving as you would like, remember the love that YOUR Father has gifted you … through YOUR adoption as a child of God.
That adoption will teach you everything you need to know about this one.
To love lavishly. Give freely. Forgive often. Smother every situation in GRACE.
We’re here. We’re praying. And we’re cheering you on, fighting for you at every difficult step.
Because DJ IS WORTH IT. THIS is worth it. What God is doing through YOUR FAMILY, who is more wonderful and loving than we could have ever imagined, is WORTH IT.
THANK YOU for loving this little boy we love so much so well.
THANK YOU for being our host boy's forever family.