When we were “pregnant” with Matthew, waiting the last six months to travel to China to get him, I decided to stop reading adoption blogs altogether. I had read a few entries from parents who had children from China with a cleft lip/palate that were really hard for me—hard because they were honest and bone raw, and I was in the dreamy stage of waiting for my child to come home—and hearing about all the hard things only made me feel panicky and overwhelmed.
I wanted to rest in the joy of my excitement and enthusiasm for a while.
It was the right thing to do. I remember even feeling a hair resentful at these other parents for being so honest in such a public space, but now at this stage of my life, I understand how challenging it is to know what truths to say out loud and what to keep only in one’s heart.
I’m not a perfect blogger, and I hope I haven’t lost or discouraged some readers with my honesty. Parenting an adopted child is a challenge, especially when that child is Matthew and that parent is me.
But lest my readers think it’s all pulling teeth around here, I am committed to also showing the magical moments at our house—the ones where I rest in the joy of this amazing little boy who is part of our lives. No, it’s not all flowers and bubbles at the Russell house, but most of the time we are actually doing really well.
And sometimes it’s actually kind of wonderful and magical.
Like last night. Sam, Matthew and I went for a walk around 7:00, just as the light was beginning to fade. We ended up at a park near our house for some play time, where I met a mom who has several children (all of them with her at the park, along with some friends too). Her kids are all older, and she was hanging out while they played some kind of tag game in the last of the day’s light.
Matthew was enthralled with the park—he ran in circles around this stone structure meant for climbing—and eventually started signing “help” to me—and I knew just what he wanted.
“You want some help climbing up there, Matthew,” I said to him. The woman was watching us and said, right away, “Was he signing to you?”
“Yes,” I told her.
“That’s so amazing. What a smart boy.”
I told her our story—of Matthew coming from China with his cleft lip and palate, how he’s not talking yet but has learned to sign to communicate with us.
She was over-the-top excited about his sign language and praised him about twenty times, calling him “so smart” and “amazing.”
My mama heart filled with pride. He is amazing, I thought to myself. Amazing in the ways he has learned to tell us what he needs, in all the things he tries and attempts throughout the day, in the little ways he plays with toys or comes to find me to tell me something.
And just this morning, as the diggers pulled up outside our window to begin a city sewer job, he squealed with delight and grabbed my hand, pulling me to the window to see the amazing spectacle just outside our house.
Now he stands at the window, eyes glued to the heavy machinery, totally enthralled with every move of the digger’s arm. It’s LOVELY to see—and fills my mama heart with so much pride and joy.
No, it’s not all sunshine and roses around here, but some days there is so much goodness that my heart might burst open. We have worries, yes, but we also celebrate DEEPLY all the many gains Matthew is making each day.
I don’t ever want to portray adoption as an easy thing—it’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. But I feel the rewards deep in the full part of my soul, and I wouldn’t trade this wonderful, wild ride for anything else in the whole world.