Sitting in a hospital room today with the late afternoon sun casting a golden yellow glow on the budding leaves outside, I held a new life in my arms. Our friends had a special delivery today, their long awaited daughter. She was a mere 3 hours old...or should I perhaps say 3 hours new...she was swaddled in flannel and I had the honor of having her take her first nap while I was staring down into that tiny little face.
What perfection. Her features lovely in miniature. For a moment, for the first time actually, I wondered in a very concrete way what my beloved sons might have looked like...felt like...smelled like...at 3 hours old. Alas, that is a pleasure I have been denied, those first hours of holding them as they adjust to their new surroundings. Would I have sat there in awe and wonder at what Dominick and I, with God's help, had created? Would I have been grieving a bit at Kenny's cleft? Would I have marveled at Matthew's beautiful eyes? Would Joshie's high cheeked dimples have been present? I'll never know what I might have felt, I'll never have those kinds of images imbedded on my personal hard drive.
Instead, I have traded those memories for others...first photos appearing on a computer screen with wide grins staring back at me, heart pounding moments just prior to passing through doorways of orphanages half way around the world, I have had scents of a different kind envelope me...not of sterile hospital corridors but of the terry cloth shirt Matthew was wearing the first moment I met him which is now sealed in a zip lock bag in the hope chest at the foot of my bed. These moments, although very different from the norm, are equally precious...equally delightful...equally wonder-filled. For us, they are also equally normal and in sharp contrast, today felt oddly unusual to me. I chuckled at that as I drove away, comparing our friends' experience today with our own adoption journeys and recognizing that the hows and the wheres don't matter at all, it is the love that matters...it is the forevers that matter.
It was a year ago this past week that I had the thrill of announcing on our blog that Kenny was legally ours and was able to display his picture for all the world to see. I remember contemplating all of this as I wrote my posts that week, thinking that here I was...the mother to a child that bore our family name and whom I had yet to even meet. It is a very strange and almost inexplicable feeling.
I never imagined a year ago that Kenny would have lost all Russian by now, that the language acquisition would be so easy. I never could have dreamed that this little boy would have a deep loyal streak for his family and that his compassion and innocence would touch so many other hearts. We were just looking for our son, for one of the missing pieces of our family. We ended up with an extraordinary child and a perfect match for all of us, even if at the time of that post last year I questioned continually what he would be like, if he would fit us and if we would fit him. Thankfully, the answer to those questions were resolved in about the first 10 minutes with him, he was surely a LaJoy and our fears were allayed.
One thing I never could have imagined in a MILLION YEARS was that one year later, I would find myself once again filled with questions about 2 other children, wondering if there would indeed come a day when I would one last time have the thrill of posting their photos for the world to see. It was unfathomable that we might ever adopt again. And yet, here we are, walking a path never on our radar. One last time we might just find ourselves becoming parents without the pleasure of others able to wish us immediate congratulations and hold our "newborns". But that is the way we do things in our family, we are unconventional in many, many ways...and I grin as I write that.
This past week was a busy one, as the boys had Spring Break and it was the last week of ski season....Hurray! As of today I am back at home with work completed until next ski season rolls around. What a gift it is to be a stay-at-home mom for part of the year. The sacrifices are worth it, and that was brought home sharply today as I picked Matthew up from class and he handed me his field trip permission slip and while I was in conversation with his teacher he grabbed a pen, put it in my hand and told me where to sign. As I took a moment to read it I realized he was pointing to the line where parents volunteered to chaperon and he grinned at me and asked "Mom, you'll go...won't you? Please?" knowing full well the entire time that wild horses couldn't stop me if he wanted me there.
We spent Spring Break doing nothing much that was earth-shattering. Thanks to the great crew I had at work I was able to take 3 days off during the week and spend it with the boys. Dominick was off 2 of those days as well, so we tried to think of what we could do to make one of the days special. We can't afford to take off for Spring Break and have a great vacation, so we decided to take a "Budget Vacation" which really wasn't even an overnighter but a day trip. We took the boys to Grand Junction, which is the nearest "big city" and an hour and 15 minutes away. We started with sleeping in late which around our place is a luxury and means 7:30 AM versus 5:00 AM for mom and dad...ok...maybe dad and mom dragging her heels by 6:15 AM. After a later breakfast/early lunch at Taco Bell where we all ate from the dollar menu and got out for barely $20 for 5 of us we then moved on to KidsPlex which is terrific, cheap entertainment for the kids and has a huge indoor climbing wall for the older kids and a decent sized indoor playground, probably twice the size of a McDonald's one. After a couple of hours there, it was a visit to the Mall for new Spiderman Shoes for Kenny and to the specialized shoe store for Matthew's new orthopedic shoes which had arrived that day. After 5 of us sharing a treat of 2 cups of Dippin' Dots ice cream (Totally the BEST but super expensive...hence only 2 small cups for 5) we then wandered over to the new bowling alley where Kenny bowled for the first time and somehow managed to beat both Matthew and Joshie as he excitedly declared "I LOVE this game!". Then it was dinner for all as we splurged for the Golden Corral, and 3 little boys feel quickly asleep on the long drive home.
The remainder of Spring Break was spent hanging out at home, going to a birthday party overnighter for all 3 boys, having a friend of a friend let the boys ride mini-ATV's for the first time which all agreed was one of the highlights of their entire lives, staying up late, and playing Legos until all hours...and suddenly I have 2 Lego fanatics instead of just 1 as Kenny discovered the Joy of Lego'ing.
We now look forward to spring, if it ever really arrives. We even had light snow flurries around mid-morning today, if you can believe that. Projects on our immediate "to do" list are to switch bedrooms in our house and repaint bedrooms and bathrooms as we move the boys to our master bedroom to provide them with more space while we move to another room. We asked if they wanted to have separate rooms at this time, but all 3 gave a resounding "No Way!" so we need to get them into more spacious digs rather than having all 3 crammed into a 10x12 room. So during the next few weeks we have lots of furniture to move and paint to apply. And then there is one bedroom that will remain empty yet filled with hope that girlie giggles may one day be bouncing off those walls.
Hopefully, after a few more days at home the laundry will all be caught up, the cupboards will be back in order, the items for the annual church rummage sale will be sorted and stacked, and we will all get back in the groove. I have an adoption presentation to give at the end of this month in Grand Junction along with my friend Joan, and just gave one a week ago to a group of about twenty women which I really enjoyed. I received what has to be the single kindest Thank You card I have ever been given from that group, and it is nice to know that they enjoyed it so much. When I do these things, which is really not all that frequently, I always feel like I am just standing there, blabbing on about my kids...sort of like I feel about this blog...and that nothing of any relavance actually comes out. I always am surprised that anyone finds it interesting!
I then have another task to get serious about, and that is to write a sermon I was asked to present (I have a hard time attaching the word "preach" to myself) as our Congregation works on filling the pulpit until we hire an interim Pastor to take over while we begin our search for a permanent one. There are several other far more logical candidates for this task in our Congregation and I look forward to hearing them far more than I am sure anyone will look forward to hearing from me. But when I was told which weekend it was that needed filling, I realized that God was talking to me so I had better take Him up on the request...it is for May 11th, Mother's Day, which also happens to be the date that Matthew's adoption was finalized...and Mother's Day 3 years ago was the first day we attended what has now become our church home. Lots of significance for our family with this date, so I'll gamely step up and do what I can, despite my reticince about the whole thing.
So, much going on both now and in the near future at the LaJoy house. And across town in our friend's home, there will be midnight feedings, full Diaper Genie's, and pink frilly clothing scattered about. A new life has arrived!! Is anything as wonderful as that?