I met these little guys. They were sleepy, and sick, and one of them had a gash on his head, but they were oh so sweet. I'll never forget the moment I scooped up my son for the first time, picked him up out of the orphanage crib and held him tight. And I'll always remember how no one could find my other son, because he was hiding on a shelf on the ground.
To this day my boys love hearing the story of the first time we met. They giggle with glee when we talk about how Yosef was hiding on a shelf. They say they want to go back to Ethiopia. Biniam says he wants to go back to help people, and Yosef says he wants to go back "to see some things." (If you ask him what, he'll tell you "beds, and lightbulbs.")
On Sunday evening our family cuddled up on the couch and pulled out the amazing scrapbook a dear friend made us of our trip. We talked about Layla House, and AHOPE, the people we met and the things we saw.
Three years in and Ethiopia seems distant, like another world. My sons have no accents and no memories, just their names and some paperwork that speak to another place and another time, a part of their lives that is lost for now but may not always be. So far there is no overt sadness--that may come in time--just optimism and and a child-like love for a far-off land.
Mostly, though, they are my sons, and I am their mama. Motherhood in this case is profoundly mysterious...Weren't you always my sweet boy? Haven't you always been with us? The answer is, of course, no. First you lived with your birth mom, then you lived in three orphanages, and when you were 16 months old you came to be mine. The life you lived in Ethiopia, while you don't remember it, will always be part of who you are, something treasured in our family. We love you dearly, and while we mourn the losses that come with adoption, we rejoice because Yosef and Biniam, you are our sons.
The past three years have gone quickly. I am so grateful that the Lord called us to Ethiopian adoption, and that He gave us the grace to follow after Him. It was a huge unknown, a leap of faith for two 24-year-olds. Except it really WASN'T--because God, knowing us all too well, pretty much told us we had to do it and there was no question in our minds. A gift, to be sure.
So Sunday we celebrated the fact that three years ago, we stepped into an orphanage compound, in a relatively obscure corner of the world few will ever see, and took two 16-month-old boys into our arms. Told them we would be their mommy and their daddy, and that we'd never let them go. We became a family.