Ben and I were talking, this weekend, about how much we love LJ.
So much of what we're feeling, right now, about the new guys, we've felt before. That helps normalize the experience.
LJ's absentmindedness, focus, and emotional challenges drive us absolutely crazy, sometimes, but the love we feel for him is so great it must parallel the Father's. I am so proud of the little man he's becoming. SO full of life and passion and love. I've never met a boy with a bigger heart.
We have been shocked by how well he's handled all of the changes. Truly.
Obviously, adoption is a huge part of our family's culture and it's something we talk about all the time. It's everyday. It's normal.
We introduced Sweet Boy and Little Miss, for the first time, at a party full of friends, yesterday. One of the six year olds asked, "Where did you get those kids?" I realized, later, how strange the appearance of a 4 year old and 6 month old in our family would be to a child outside our family.
When it comes to each boy's specific story, we've always let the conversations happen, organically. They each know (and LOVE) their first meeting and coming home stories. And they know that their first moms loved them very much. Apart from those basics, we don't share information until it comes in the form of questions. And, thankfully, at this point, the questions have been simple and easy to answer - "Did my mom eat pizza when I was in her belly?" or "Was I born in an aiplane flying high in the sky?"
Ty is, extremely, curious, and has asked many such questions over the years that have given him a pretty good foundation for his story. Being able to interact with Rebekah helps cultivate that.
LJ, on the other hand, has never asked a question. And we don't push him.
But, when Sweet Boy came home, he definitely opened a window to LJ's thoughts. We have had countless conversations about first moms, foster moms, last moms (so many moms!), and "going to court", as Ty calls it, for adoption finalization.
Sweet Boy is, terribly, confused, so those topics come up, daily, right now.
All of his questions have triggered LJ to start asking questions.
The other day we sat around the dinner table (the environment for most of our meaningful talks - I pray this remains the pattern for years to come) and LJ said, "I have a first mom, but we don't know her name. We've never met."
It was matter-of-fact.
Sweet Boy jumped in that he didn't know his first mom's name either and then, of course, Ty launched into everything he knows about his first mom. I didn't interrupt the flow of conversation, but I realized that it's time to pull LJ aside. We've never really talked much about his first mom because there is nothing positive in his file. In fact, many of the words he may want to read one day, he'll find harmful. Her willingness to walk away without a fight; Her care for his siblings.
I can't tell him much. But, I can tell him her name. I can show him a handful of pictures that I pulled from her Facebook page when we first brought him home. I have one picture of them together; he's about 18 months. It's the only baby picture we have. I can tell him that they share the same squishy nose and that she loved him so much that she kept him warm in her tummy for many months.
It may not be enough, but I hope it's a start.
Out of nowhere, today, he said, "Mom, can we visit my G-Mama's house?" That was the name he used for his former foster mom. He only lived with her for five months, but it's the only other home/mom he has ever referred to. For a long time after we brought him home, he would romanticize her and insert her name into conversations that weren't relevant. We never corrected him, but would listen for memories to surface.
I made every effort to stay in contact. We send a Christmas card every year and have invited her to his last two birthday parties.
She never responded.
Ben asked LJ what he remembered about his G-Mama and he said, "She has skin just like me."
He is right. She does.
I wish I could erase all the history for him and just make life work the way it's supposed to for well-loved four year old boys....but that's not our story. Walking through difficult memories and future realities is part of growing a family, inorganically. It's not a part we can escape.
We do our best to lay a framework of love, now, so that when it comes time to deal with the fullness of their stories, the pain of abandonment will be dulled.
They may always hear the whisper of an orphan...but their spirits will not be defeated.
They won't lose hope because the ROAR of family will deafen the quiet rumblings.
I watch the way my boys love and I know it's special.
God has opened their eyes to dark parts of the world and given their souls an overwhelming shine.
Their friendship is enough to love without measure; their brotherhood will change the world.