It’s been one year. Okay, one year and 28 days since we added our fourth child. In some ways, it seems like the past year has been going in slow motion, but in other ways, it flew by. Life is funny sometimes. We had a lot of “firsts” last year. On Valentine’s Day this year, I realized that it would be the first holiday that wasn’t a “first” for James. It seems like such a long time ago when he wasn’t quite ready to make Valentine cards for the family. I still remember it like yesterday though. When I explained to him that every year, we write each other Valentine’s and have a special Valentine Day dinner, he said, “That’s weird.” But that night he sat down at the table and couldn’t keep himself from smiling when he opened one Valentine Card after another and read about how much we love him. It must have felt strange to him. I can remember wondering if our Valentine’s Days would ever be the same again. After this year’s celebration, I can say they’re not the same. They are even better.
This year, James was on board from the beginning, helping with decorations, making Valentine Cards for everyone, and excitedly preparing the traditional Valentine supper. It was so fun to see the difference a year has made. It filled my soul and renewed my hope that broken things can be beautiful again. Here’s a taste of this year’s celebration:
Sometimes, I think about these blessings that I would be missing out on if we hadn’t obeyed God, and I just am saddened by the sheer possibility. Hearing your biological child say, “I love you,” is absolutely amazing. Have your adopted child say, “I love you,” is a totally different kind of amazing. Not necessarily better or worse…just a feeling that I wouldn’t want to miss out on experiencing.
James has made leaps this year:
- He has grown like a weed! I have no doubt we’ll see a good two inches of growth this year on his ceremonial birthday doorway marking.
- He has flourished in (home)school without the assistance of medication.
- He is sleeping regularly.
- He is becoming a great brother.
- He no longer becomes hysterical at bumps and bruises.
- He is starting to trust us.
- He has accepted our traditions and added some new ones.
- He freely expresses his love for us.
- He expresses remorse when he does wrong.
This isn’t even half of the list. The confidence I now see in him, the peace I’m seeing growing in him…
I wish that I could say, “Look at what we did! We saved this child!” But there’s no way. It was much less about what we did and much more about what God did. Last year, most days I felt as though I was drowning, struggling up to the surface every few days just to get a gasp of fresh air before heading back down. I experienced my first (and hopefully last) round of serious depression. Looking back, I think it was just the perfect “thorn in my side” to remind me that God is doing this…not me. God was making us a family…not me.
On the very day that marked one year since James has been with us, I could literally feel a big sigh from deep inside. I looked around and suddenly saw James, who seemed like he had just always been there. I looked at my biological kids and said, “Wow! You’ve grown since last time I really saw you.” And I had this renewed sense that I’m still here. I’m not coming up for air every few days anymore. No, I am swimming strong, and all my little ducks are right beside me. While I wasn’t looking, they were having the time of their life learning to swim strong too.
That phrase that I said every day last year as soon as my feet hit the floor…do you remember it? I trust you, God. It got me through, and not only did it get me through, but God was right. His plan for our family was and is good and right and perfect.
So, as we close the door on this first year together, I am climbing out of survival mode. I’m shedding the extra pounds I picked up on the way, but even more than that, I’ve shed many of the worries I carried with me, seeing once again that God can be trusted. And now, my faith is just a little-or maybe it’s a lot-stronger than it was. Now the next time God asks me to do something hard, I’ll know without a doubt that it’s a good plan, and maybe, just maybe, I won’t worry so much.