It doesn’t seem possible that it was only three months ago yesterday.
That day that our five-person family walked IN through the doors of an empty Civil Affairs office in Wuhan City China, with nervous hands and eager hearts … and walked OUT as a giddy-nearly-exploding team of SIX.
It feels like years ago.
Or an eternity.
Because after three months with the most hilarious and spunky little man on our hip — the one who mimics so well that we now have to watch what we say, because we hear 98 percent of our words come back to us later (dressed in a Chinese accent and some major attitude) — we truly can’t remember what life was like without him.
Life is so FUN! So RICH. So FULL.
With four boys in the house, it’s chaos. TOTAL CHAOS. But beautiful, full, rich chaos. The kind that tickles the soul and, when you intentionally stop in the middle of it to look around and take a deep breath, makes you so grateful for the privilege of getting to live this crazy, beautiful life.
Superhero 4, like every sweet superhero who entered our team before him, totally turned our world upside down.
And after three months of watching this once “tentative, uncertain, introverted” orphan THRIVE in big and bold and loud and rowdy ways inside the context of FAMILY, it appears that God has turned his former world upside down, too.
Inside a forever family, this boy is the total opposite of everything we prepared ourselves for in his file.
He adores being the center of attention and the one bringing down every house in raucous laughter.
He’s also opinionated, vocal and this deadly combination of charming and hilarious. Which, if we’re just being honest, also makes him 100 percent rotten. ;)
We like to say that he’s as spicy as he is sweet. But how the SWEET has just obliterated our hearts. <3
This little man whose favorite phrase is “Mama bao” (“Mama hold me”) has bonded more beautifully than we could have ever dreamed. Although true attachment takes 12 to 24 months, according to the research, God has truly done a miracle in Superhero 4’s heart and ours, and He has somehow seemingly transferred the attachment this sweet boy had with his amazing foster mother to us.
Superhero 4 is by my side 24-7 (which is why I’ve learned to keep my iPhone out of naked-picture range when I’m trying to take a shower with little man sprawled just outside the door), and his favorite thing in the world is to “snuggle.” Which also sometimes sounds like “snack-a.” Which is tied with snuggling for his first favorite thing in the world.
Although there are fleeting moments where I fantasize about what it will be like to sleep through the night in my own bed without needing to hold the hand of a 3-year-old who is also the lightest sleeper known to man and who wakes up multiple times a night the second I try to roll over or move from his grip — really, I’m just thanking God.
That this precious angel loves and trusts us enough that he wants to be touching us at all times.
That he finds enough protection and comfort in our arms that, when he’s asleep, that’s the only place he feels safe enough to be.
That when his hand reaches out for someone in this world he knows and wants and loves, it’s to US.
What God has done and sealed and unified inside our relationship and in this little boy’s heart is truly a miracle.
And when I count the miracles of the last three months, it’s really just one of many.
First, Superhero 4 got into the most amazing local children’s center where children with superpowers like his can receive speech, occupational, physical and educational therapy all in one place at one time in one classroom.
Even though this center normally sports a two-year-long waiting list, we received the call from this center, which is completely free to us and covered by our health insurance and the local county, after just ONE DAY on the waiting list.
We’ve been attending what we call “school” together, where Superhero 4 has made friends with children who look and walk and work like him, every weekday morning since.
In Superhero 4’s short three weeks receiving therapy at this center (and physical therapy previously from the most amazing therapist who worked with us for his first two months home), the boy with the superpower of cerebral palsy who couldn’t even bear his own weight without assistance now pushes himself up and stands alone.
The boy whose file stated that he couldn’t walk and might not ever be able to do so has taken FOUR (!!!) independent steps, and now, with proper braces and new orthotic shoes, RUNS through the center playground using a posterior walker.
And the boy whose adoption file listed one of his “special needs” as “cognitive delays” has learned so much English that, when he attended his speech therapy evaluation, our amazing Chinese tutor spoke to him in Chinese … and he responded to the therapist’s questions in ENGLISH.
That was after two months home.
Now, after three, that boy understands about 90 percent of everything we say and can respond in coherent English phrases. He very clearly uses expressions like “See you later!” and “Have a great day!” and he can communicate what he wants in English, even if he does add an “uh” sound to the end of every English word.
Although we’ve been having our Chinese tutor and very dear friend play with him in Mandarin at the house a few hours each week to help him maintain his language and his culture, this little man has decided that English is the language he wants to speak. And so although he will nod yes and no to Mackenzie’s questions in Chinese, if he responds to her, he most often does so in English.
My favorite English phrase he’s learned in the last few weeks?
“I go potty.”
Which he has now TAUGHT HIMSELF HOW TO DO without ANY instruction from us after watching his friends use the preschool potties at therapy!
Because Jesus loves me. A whole, whole lot.
Next week, Superman, who has overcome SO MUCH in his past and medical history, is going to be my special potty training assistant as we formally attempt to move Superhero 4 from diapers to underwear (something I really didn't plan to do for months but can't miss the opportunity to take advantage of now). And we can’t wait to give this new big brother, who still admittedly struggles at times with the loss of his role as the baby, the opportunity to sit in a TEACHING role for the first time with his little di di.
In the meantime, we’ve introduced the littlest Chinese American to his first fall festival (where he dressed as a “family tree” as part of our forest-themed family costumes this year),
his first church Trunk or Treat event (where, after I told him no eating this collection of candy he had earned by strolling from trunk to trunk with a smile and a Spidey bag, he stopped and then bowed to pray over his candy … because he assumed I told him he couldn’t eat it only because he hadn’t prayed first … and then, after he shouted “amen,” immediately dug into his massive catch with two outstretched hands),
his first chicken wing (which he decimated in seconds, leaving Superhero 2 feeling sorry for the poor chicken who had his bones gnawed upon),
his first road trip (thank you, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown, for free Veterans Day weekend admission, amazing cheese shops, riverside farmers’ market clam chowder and the most moving Veterans Day ceremony we’ve ever attended)
and his first American CDs, which he insists we play so he can clap and sing and dance every chance he gets. (I even scored a few slow dances in the kitchen to country hymns while we prepared dinner together one night. Melt. My. Heart.)
Three months into this lifelong adventure, we’re not sleeping much, and we’ve lost all hope that any form of “quiet time” will ever return to this crazy, rowdy house. But we’re having a ball with this boy who is a one-man walking entertainment show and a total hoot.
We can’t wait to laugh with and learn about this sweet superhero for three times 3 million days to come. <3