Six months ago, on a snowy morning in China.....
This precious child walked into our lives.
I think of the cautious look on his face here and my eyes fill with tears. What was he thinking? What trust he was forced to place in us.
We have been amazed at how quickly a young child who lived in an orphange for six years...has learned to love and be loved.
Zeke said, "Zhuang Zhuang, you want sit by me?"
In some homes, those words might not convey the same meaning they did yesterday, but here there were deep emotions underlying the question. Zeke and Drew have remarkably blended into our family. They are tough days, but most days are good. There are tough moments in a day, but most moments in any day are good. The boys are learning to love and trust their parents, love and trust their sisters, and love and trust their extended family.
But....they only sort of....tolerate...one another.
They argue as well as any siblings who are less than 2 years apart in age. They prefer to play with/sit with/ sleep with/ eat with their sisters.
They both prefer Josie-Tatum for comfort, but prefer time with Ellie when serious playing needs to be done. Drew often grows frustrated with Zeke, but I have seen and heard him take moments when he is truly looking out for Zeke.
Zeke, however, seems regularly annoyed by his baby brother. I've never really heard him say anything nice.
So, when I heard him ask, "Zhuang Zhuang, do you want to sit by me?" I felt he was finally making a positive emotional connection with his brother.
Those are the sweet moments, like when you hear, "I luvu you, Mama." or "Sank you, Mama."
But, some moments are H.A.R.D.
Two days ago we had one of those moments. And, it was a reminder that all is not well inside their little hearts. We see them run and laugh and play and sing. We watch them go to school and say, "Bye, mama, giva me a kiss," and we think how well they are bonding.
Then, something happens.
And, we remember these children have come from the H.A.R.D. places. No matter how "good" their institutions were in China, they were still not families. And, not matter how "bad" conditions might have been in their previous homes, we took them away from everything familiar. Change, even positive change, brings stressors on the body that we often overlook.
Zeke had a moment that was good for me. Not because I held a crying, screaming, yelling, sweating, kicking 6 year old for an hour. Not because he accused me of things that brought tears to my eyes or said things that made me cringe. This was another moment I've waited six months for. I've felt all along that his attachment was too easy.
He recent meltdown was good for me because it forced me to remember.
I need to remember that he has heard, "I love you," every day for six months.
But, I don't know if he ever heard, "I love you," the first six years of his life.
I need to remember that he now lives in a life of plenty, too many toys, plenty of food, lots of family, plenty of clothes.
But, I don't know how many nights the previous six years he went to bed cold or hungry.
In those sweet moments, like after school, when he sees me and he shouts, "Mama!" and runs to my arms, I am soooooooooo glad Jesus gave him to me.
But, in the dark moments, I am glad, too. I am thankful that God has entrusted us with his heart. The God of restoration is allowing us to be part of Zeke's restoration.
These six months have been quite a journey, but it's a ride I am blessed to be on!!!