He walked into our lives one month ago today.
That boy who, after a traumatic Gotcha Day morning, sat in my lap and looked into my eyes and captured all our hearts with the ear-to-ear smile that since that day, even in sickness, has rarely faded.
That boy we truly cannot believe we get the privilege to call our son.
It has been a whirlwind month since the day we met the boy whose hysterical facial expressions and ornery antics keep us laughing for hours. In some ways, I feel like we were in China yesterday.
In most ways, though (like after one emergency room visit, two days in the hospital, one Urgent Care visit, one doctor’s appointment and one physical therapy evaluation for this sweet boy who has faced strep throat and bronchiolitis and the stomach bug of his brothers and a strange rash that turned his face to sandpaper and then covered his entire body), I feel like it was a lifetime ago.
We can’t even remember now a day that Superhero 4 wasn’t a member of the league.
And we don’t want to.
The last month has been BRUTAL in the physical and logistical and health and new-continent transition departments (hence eight days to write one blog and two weeks completely off the grid — thank you, LORD, for the 11 amazing families who delivered meals to our door for two weeks straight). But it’s been BEAUTIFUL in every emotional way.
Let's call it "brutiful."
God truly performed a miracle in our family’s life, and this precious, uberly cheerful little boy who knew a FABULOUS foster mama for three years of his life has, by the grace of God, accepted us as his family.
Though we’re sure he misses her, he hasn’t melted down for “China Mama” since the first week he was in our arms.
And, after back-to-back bouts of vomiting and sickness and breathing struggles that landed us in the hospital for what we chose to view as a Mama-son vacation (where else do you get waited on hand and foot and get served breakfast in bed? :)), this sweet boy who has experienced SO MUCH LOSS and SO MUCH CHANGE in the last month turned to me — in the vomit and in the fevers and with breathing tubes in his nose — and cried for comfort from ME Mama.
God redeems even hospital visits. <3
This guy is such a treasure, and every day we get to spend playing with him and learning him and getting to know his compassionate and charismatic and oh-so-kind heart that reaches out and kisses every soul who says “ouch” or appears less than thrilled with his current life circumstances is a GIFT.
Now, after a month in the team, we’re seeing this superhero start to blossom, and it would be an understatement to say that we just ADORE his sweetness, personality and soul.
Superhero 4 is extroverted and outgoing. He greets every new friend with a smile and a wave, and he uses his new English words of “hello” and “buh-bye” to properly greet every cashier we encounter on our multiple daily trips to the store … to buy diapers, to buy locks, to buy cleaners to erase Sharpie from wood floors. He THRIVES in groups of people, and he LOVES meeting new friends. So much so that we totally changed our cocooning plans for this boy who was described in his file as timid and shy. Because at home in the silence with just Mama is not where this loud, energetic, crazy people lover loves to be.
So we’ve signed up for Mama and me music classes and scheduled weekly runs with friends on local trails and we’ve made lots of plans for this little man to get special time with the other kids he just adores.
Because without three Ge Ge to chatter to and wrestle with all weekday long, this usually super cheerful little man who wears an almost permanent smile gets very cranky very quickly.
Superhero 4 is active. I’ve learned that teachers use the euphemism “busy” to describe such children. And busy he is. Stealing my coffee. Dumping my entire container of hair products on the floor while I stand above him trying to brush my teeth. Opening every marker lid and jar and item that we intend to stay IN its container and dumping the contents all over the floor.
Superhero 1, who is secretly right now Superhero 4’s favorite, affectionately nicknamed this little firecracker “Li’l Ball of Trouble.” Because, well, he is. Because he’s 3. And because we literally cannot take a shower without someone on keep-the-house-from-being-destroyed duty.
Superhero 4 is 10 shades of spicy. This hilarious little thing reads people so well, and although he doesn’t understand everything we say, he knows when we’re asking him to do something he isn’t into. That’s when he’ll put his hands on his hips, rolls his eyes and make the most hilarious face you’ve ever seen to show his dismay.
He signs “more” close to his lips with raised eyebrows and the cutest little grin.
And he’s learned the word “no,” which has become a popular choice in his English vocabulary. One he uses with vim and vigor and umph. Especially when it comes to ending an activity that he is thoroughly enjoying (one that usually involves the inappropriate use of markers, pens or writing utensils on inappropriate objects — like his body).
Superhero 4 is BRIGHT. In one month inside an English-speaking family after absolutely no exposure to English at all, this little guy now understands about half of all we say. He’s learned the English words “hello,” “goodbye,” “dog,” “yogurt,” “banana,” “milk” (which he pronounces “milk-a” in two syllables in something that sounds close to Russian), “shower,” “pray” and all the brothers’ names. And of course, “no.” :) He learned our daily routine in one day flat … and also the location of every sharp object we somehow missed below the three-foot level in our entire house. He parrots and mimics PERFECTLY, both actions and words, and is picking up everything from singing English and Chinese songs to repeating the common phrases in our house at appropriate times.
My very favorite Superhero 4 phrase is the one he uses every morning when he calls for us to come pick him up out of bed: “GOOD MORNING!” which he offers with a sweeping hand gesture and a massive smile and then repeats to every family member as he enters every room inside our house for the morning.
If that doesn’t put some spring in your 5:30 a.m. step, nothing will.
And Superhero 4 is extremely loving and affectionate. He throws hugs and kisses around like confetti, and he rarely leaves a new friend without reaching his arms out to pull her in and kiss her on the cheek … usually multiple times. When we lay with him in his toddler bed as he falls asleep each night, this little snuggler wraps his arms around our necks and pulls us in close, and then actively snuggles (the way I have been trying to teach Super-Spouse to snuggle for years!) for as long as you both shall live.
This week, this little superhero noticed how exhausted Mama was after sifting through the schoolwork of three boys and the post-adoption paperwork of one sweet man after a long day of medical visits, sports practices and sanitizing the house following four weeks of the Plague.
I fell into his toddler bed and started pulling up the quilt around both of us, not caring if I fell asleep in the bed for a few hours on this night or not.
Superhero 4 noticed my total exhaustion and, after snuggling in as tightly as possible, kissed me on the forehead and wrapped his back arm around my neck.
And then, he said something in English that I didn’t even know he knew.
“Love you, Mama.”
And my heart exploded.
Those words are worth vomit.
Those words are worth exhaustion.
Those words are worth all the black Sharpie we tried to scrub off our family room wood floors.
Because they mean that this boy who was an orphan one month and one day ago feels something that those without parents may NEVER get to experience.
The feeling of true love.
What a privilege and honor to spend the rest of our lives pouring it out on him.