The last time we started the adoption process, my entire world focused around doing everything we could to bring our boy home … and to bring him home now.
While we fundraised and organized and completed adoption document after adoption document, I thought about Superman. I dreamed about Superman. I talked incessantly about Superman. I FOCUSED on Superman. And I did everything I possibly could to ensure that Superman didn’t spend one second longer in an orphanage than he absolutely had to.
The problem was that, somewhere along the way, I got so focused on the superhero coming INTO our home that I forgot to be fully present for the ones already living INSIDE of it.
I was so busy chasing THAT boy that I sometimes neglected special moments with THESE.
This time, our team is fighting just as hard to get our newest superhero home and into the arms of forever family (we’re waiting on our Letter Seeking Confirmation from China right now!) … but not at the cost of missing out on the beauty of the three superheroes standing right before us.
Because though the days may sometimes seem long, we know the truth — the years are far too short.
I blinked, and this spring Superhero 1 turned 11. And in the last few months, my introverted bookworm who loves characters in books but not so much those in real life has just blossomed.
He moved from a boy who loved to play outside but struggled to find his place in the athletic world (where he sported a great team attitude from his place on the basketball and football benches) to a boy who ran four 10K races this spring … and placed first in every one.
From a shy kid who didn’t enjoy talking in public (not to mention interacting with the people there) to one of five students at his school who formed an Odyssey of the Mind team, solved a vehicle problem, wrote a skit to incorporate their three vehicles (which were “ideas” coming from a garage shaped as a brain and traveling to an O.M. spontaneous room, where they could escape from “the box” that keeps ideas inside of it), and then beat boxed his way through first place wins at Regionals and States to join his team in representing his state at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals last week.
From a 5th grader who frequently tells me, “I have one friend — why would I need more?” to a boy who used his Mandarin Chinese skills to initiate conversations and make fast friends with a team of fellow fifth graders from China who were also attending the same competition.
From a slightly lazy (let’s just be honest) superhero who loved results but not so much the hard work it took to arrive at them to a persevering animal who played his guitar for seven entire hours of our local garage sale, just to earn tips to help his team travel to World Finals.
From a slightly sarcastic pre-teen to a helpful, responsible young man who has truly become my buddy and joy (about 80 percent of the time).
And I could have missed it.
If my eyes were focused only on China, I could have missed the transformation of the 8-year-old extrovert who, too, has come into his own this spring.
Who, while his introverted brother chose a gift for his birthday (one that would play music and allow him to ignore people for long periods of time), chose a party for his birthday gift this year … with 45 of his closest friends.
Who chose a theme (Olympics), asked for a budget and then spent hours online planning every detail, from the Olympic torch and international flag decorations to the hula hoops he ordered to hang to form the Olympic rings, all the way to the catering (which he asked as his present from Grandma … because that way, the food at his party “would actually taste good” — little turkey).
Who grew the heart we didn’t think could get any bigger by using all the money and gift cards he received for his birthday to purchase gifts for orphans in China (that he plans to deliver personally when we hopefully travel as a family there later this year).
Who, although he still struggles to be generous with his brothers, brought us to tears when we witnessed him trading pins at his brother’s World Finals competition. Because when a 4-year-old girl couldn’t get an older child to trade a pin for a fidget spinner, this big-hearted boy stepped in and asked if he could donate his best pin to pay the trade price for the toy … for a little girl he didn’t even know.
Who, although relationships, not goals, are usually his thing, learned to put in the time and effort it took to both earn his blue belt in martial arts and tackle a piano recital song far harder than any he’d played before. (Grandma, assigning him the Star Wars theme song was the ultimate cool piano teacher move. Way to dangle the big mama of all carrots!)
And I could have missed it.
I could have missed the joys of the boy who will soon no longer be the baby.
The 5-year-old Energizer bunny who skipped, ran and galloped, but almost never walked, four to six miles every day last week as we explored the university campus where his big brother’s competition was held.
The one who still curls up in my lap every day and snuggles up in our bed at least one night a week and who cried last week when he realized that college wasn’t in Mom and Dad’s house.
The one who has only known English for three short years but who now reads BOB books to us before he falls asleep at night.
The one who has worked so hard this spring in occupational therapy that he can now touch his new opposable thumb to every other finger and form a grip tight enough that he can begin steering a bike. (Coordination, now that’s a different story.)
The one who is always the first to offer help, the first to offer company, the first to volunteer, the first to join our side.
The one who treasures family time above almost everything else in the world.
And I could have missed it.
Buried in paperwork and with an eye only on China, I could have missed camping dates and cooking dates and trampoline jumping sessions and wrestling matches.
I could have missed the 500th rendition of "The Duck Song."
I could have missed out on precious boymom LIFE.
I’m so grateful to God that this time around, He woke me up, opened my eyes and, as He placed a passion in my heart for chasing THAT boy we can't wait to hold, reminded me not to miss THESE.