(I wrote this about 3 months ago, now! I am finally feeling brave enough to start sharing some of our journey with Rowan these past 4 months! He is a gift to us, and we are thankful for the joys and sorrows of our life together. But I am glad I didn’t share right away…looking back over all the past months have held is just more confirmation of how only God could write such a crazy, beautiful, epic story!)
We have been a family of 6 now for a little over three weeks, and my feelings and thoughts about our first two weeks are still so raw that it is hard to find words to describe them. We have been posting a bunch of happy, sweet pictures on social media lately, but the truth is life is so much more complicated than that! I believe in adoption, and I also believe in being real, so here is some of what went down and some of the fight we are in as we teach a little boy how to live in family, and as we are refined in the process!
We have some pictures of a happy boy with us on family day, but in truth our little guy was so overwhelmed with being out of the orphanage for the first time in his life that he was off the walls hyper. I wish I had a video to show you of how many times I had to chase him as he tried to escape the receiving room. He was one of the first kids to arrive, and we had to wait a few hours for all of the families to receive their kids. Rowan ran around the whole room, wanting to touch everything, taking the other families’ snacks and trying to escape the room. I was sweaty before we left for the bus and the safety of our hotel room, which thankfully had a lock on it to keep our escape artist confined.
But, we ended the day happily eating dinner together. Rowan sat calmly and ate with a smile, which was a good reminder as I looked back the following few days after that first one looking for glimpses of hope.
The next day was a day I pretty much want to forget. We had to take our new son to 3 government offices, with a lot of waiting. He was with strangers who couldn’t communicate with him and he pitched every gigantic temper tantrum you could possibly imagine in the span of those 5 hours…it was awful. We didn’t know him, he didn’t know us, and it was hard not to compare him to the other kids in our travel group, who (on the outside) seemed to be handling all of it so much better. I won’t go into details about what was going through my head, but I went down the panic road. I let fear march in and tell me all sorts of lies. Anxiousness became a near constant thing every time we left the hotel room. We just weren’t sure how Rowan would react and it became clear he was grieving in a way that we did not expect…you can read all the books, but experiencing the raw emotion is hard, so much harder than anyone can ever tell you.
What I know, though, is that in those worst moments, Jesus was practically shouting at me to trust Him. I had an assurance of His presence in a way I have not had in a long time. Jesus reminded me that his commands are worth following. His commands to love others, to lay down my life for others, to follow Him in sacrifice, to hand over my anxiety and give thanks. And so I started giving thanks for Rowan, something maybe no one had ever done over his little life. I didn’t feel like thanking God at the moment, but obedience won out over feelings. I prayed that Jesus would show up in Rowan’s dreams. I prayed that God would be my peace. Pete and I chose to ignore the fears for the future and work on the day before us, no more. And we were and still are in awe of how God gave us the assurance that He has His hand in our lives and in Rowan’s life and our life together.
Adoption is wonderful and redemptive and heartbreaking and beautiful and hard, all in the same day! Every day we work to a new normal and toward healing in our boy’s heart and soul. But we aren’t the healers, God is. And He’s got this. We are in his hands.
On the plane ride back to the US, Rowan fell asleep and was really restless. I was honestly wondering what type of dreams were scaring him so much. But at one moment, he woke up, looked at me and smiled, grabbed my hand and kissed it and fell back asleep peacefully with my hand in his. My heart completely melted in that moment, and while we have had hard days and moments since, I am grateful for the fight because it is a fight for a little heart and for my heart, too. God took those prayers of thankfulness offered only in obedience and turned them into prayers of love now, too.