Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Guess We Aren't In Kansas Anymore!!

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!

Then there was Joshie, who at first didn't even want to go out on the boat, then wasn't so sure about being pulled behind the boat on a tiny little board with nothing other than his life vest on. But after seeing the huge grins on everyone else's faces my timid little guy decided it was worth the risk.
To say the kids had a total blast is an understatement...this kind of adventure is something they have never had and might never have again.

We sat there and watched all of our children in the twilight as they played at the edge of the lake, a blend of bio and adopted kiddos brought together halfway around the world for whom nothing much mattered but the pure unadulterated joy of building sand castles and jumping off the dock making huge canonball-like splashes. I was reminded that in an uncomplicated way this was the creation of community and I wished that somehow it was that easy for adults to accept with ease our differences and join together to form connections without messing it all up by focusing on skin color, religion, or political persuasion. How much happier would our lives be if we, as adults, stood hand in hand on the edge of the dock and jumped in together, giggling all the way? Somewhere along the way, we lose that ability to accept each other at face value, we find it harder to walk up to a new kid on the playground and say "Hey, what's your name? Wanna play with me?". Instead we stand back and judge, we look for reasons to turn our backs or exclude others simply because they are not like us. So sad, for we all miss out when we do that.


Anonymous said...

I have a feeling you all will have many more wonderful adventures like the one you had in Kansas!! What a treat, great pictures and a splendid story! You are truly leading these children to find their courage, their hearts and their brains! I'm going to try to find you some sparkly red shoes!!

Welcome home! Love, Miss Joan

Hilary Marquis said...

WOW! What a rockin' fun vacation you guys had. The boys' faces are priceless on that wake board. I'm so glad you got to go for a visit!

Michelle said...

how fun...I grew up in Kansas...even lived in wichita for about 6 months in 2nd grade! you hav just inspired a post on my blog!

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

What fun they had, how their faces show it!! What a great time for you all! So glad you're all feeling well enough to have a taste of summer fun with friends!!