Sad Faces As We Leave Behind Our Friends!
I received a few emails asking if we had dropped off the face of the earth because the blog was so silent. No, the earth is still round and not flat, and I did something I rarely do, I decided to be impulsive and the boys and I jumped in the car with 24 hours notice and drove to Wichita to spend the week with our friends. We had planned to do so earlier in the summer before our FluFest hit, and this was the last chance we would have to leave before school starts, so we loaded the car with an amazing array of videos, snacks, blankets and stuffed animals (even Matthew just HAD to bring along his froggie and Big Dog "Spike"!) and we were off to the Heartland.
The Heartland...that is exactly what Kansas has become for us, for it is there amidst the flat prairie landscape that we left a little piece of our own hearts. Our friendship with a family there began long ago, almost 10 years in fact, when emails were exchanged after their daughters came home from Matthew's orphanage and a young couple offered to be our guide through our first adoption journey. We have somehow managed to maintain this friendship through the years with only 4 short visits in person but with ongoing email contact. What makes it so interesting is that this friendship is less about adoption and maintaining cultural connections than it is about the rare gift of finding people in this world whom you truly care about.
How can an entire family be adopted? I didn't know it was possible, but after this visit there can be no doubt. Who has adopted whom, I am not sure, but I know we have somehow become unofficial "family" and the kindness and generosity shown us by their entire extended clan is something I only wish I could repay but know there is no way to do so. We left with great memories of boat rides, sand in our shoes from hours spent at "grandma and grandpa's" beach at their lake home, bags of seas shells gently clanking in our suitcases, and tubs and bags of "hand me downs" that for my kids are really more like "hand me ups" as there was indeed an entire wardrobe there for Matthew!
I so enjoyed spending time with my unofficial twin, a Diet Coke ingestin', digital photography lovin', over-organizin', kid adoptin' Momma! I have been blessed with a wonderful assortment of adopted sisters throughout my life, but this one is the closest to being a "mini-me" that I have ever had. We talk fast, we think fast, we analyze everything into oblivion, we drink copious amounts of Diet Coke (believe it or not, she drinks me under the table!! Hard to fathom even for my kids who were surprised!), and we both recognize that life, time and distance don't allow us to have the friendship we might otherwise have if circumstances were different, but we see the value in what we DO have...and it is worth the efforts we make to keep it.
The boys had their fist experience "boarding" behind the boat, and the grins were a mile wide after courage was gathered to try it. Kenny surprised me by being the first to beg to hit the water...but then maybe it wasn't such a surprise after watching him beg to swim in the pool at church camp when he first came home, despite the fact I knew he couldn't swim a lick. He has tons more courage than skill, but after two years of swim lessons and a lot of time floating with a life vest on, we both knew he'd be fine. It wasn't 2 minutes in the water before he started to show us he truly had no fear and was trying to catch waves in the wake of the boat and slide up on the side. I stood back watching him once again dumbfounded at this kid who never fails to surprise me.
As has often happened over the course of the past two years, Kenny's confidence encouraged Matthew to step out of his comfort zone! I love it when this happens, as so often in many arenas it is Matt who leads the way due to his maturity. It is a nice balance for Kenny to be able to excel and lead in some areas. In school it is Matthew who leads due to Kenny's late entrance into our lives, but Matthew lacks confidence and is more hesitant in many situations. I think this recognition on both their parts of what they can learn from one another is one reason that having 2 sons who are both 10 years old has worked for us versus creating the internal displacement within our family which might have occurred. Each is proud of the other's gifts!