Cruz’s adoption would ignite an even deeper passion to adopt again. When he was fifteen months old, we started another adoption journey, this time from Ethiopia. We planned to adopt a child 0-2 years of age. I’m laughing as I type that, God sure has a way of changing plans! I say that because it was just weeks after starting that adoption when I saw a picture of a sweet boy, with a killer smile on our agency’s “ waiting children’s list”. My heart jumped. I felt like I was looking at my son but he was ten years old, and adopting him would not be an option. We were only approved to adopt a child up to five years of age. I tried to avoid thinking about him because it would make my heart ache in a way I never knew. I looked at his picture everyday until I finally knew I had to tell John about him. I called John up to my office where I proceeded to show him the picture of the boy I couldn’t get out of my head.
He walked away from the computer as quick as he came saying, “He sure has a nice smile!” A nice smile? That’s it? In that moment he turned back around and said, “You don’t think we should adopt him, do you?” I immediately shot down that notion by saying everything I thought he was thinking. He was too old. It would be too hard. We couldn’t change the birth order of our family. A couple days later, I was still thinking about “that boy”. God was clearly not allowing me to forget. I asked John to join me in praying for him that evening. We held hands, bowed our heads and prayed for God to find this boy a family and to bless his future. After we finished I looked at John, his eyes filled with tears. My husband then said something I never expected. He said, “He is our son, we are supposed to be his family.” My heart skipped a beat, I couldn’t believe my ears!
We had to jump through a few hoops to get our agency on board and to allow us to adopt a child of his age. After a few days we had the official approval, we were adopting Bekalu! Three months after accepting “Bek’s” referral we were in Ethiopia meeting him. That trip would impact me in ways I never dreamt of. We fell in love with our son and his country. Ethiopia was breathtaking, and the culture rich in love and tradition. Bek came home three months after that trip.
The next few months were a whirlwind as we all adjusted to our new normal. I can’t say it was easy as there was heavy grief, a major language barrier, frustrating moments for everyone, and many nights I fell into bed emotionally and physically exhausted. When you adopt a child you can’t expect everything to fit effortlessly. It takes time and work; hard work. Showing love is intentional when your child is hurting and acting defiant as a means of coping. There is not a doubt in my mind that God brought us together for a purpose. We have all grown in our faith over the past 2 years. I expected Bek would change a lot after bringing him home but what I wasn’t expecting was the change that would happen within my own heart. Bek joining our family brought some of my insecurities and areas struggle to the surface. Throughout my life I always wanted things to appear perfect to others. I would hide behind a smile and stuff my feelings until it would consume me. I cared so much about what other’s thought about me and my family. It was sometime between me chasing our grieving son down the street as he was running away again, and having our neighbors overhear the screams of our heart broken child who badly missed his birth country that I stopped caring about what others thought. We lost friends but gained others. I craved authentic relationships and realized in order to have them I needed to be open to letting others in. I needed to let go of having the perfect family and perfect life. Through that process I realized what God had in store for us was something better, something more meaningful and beautiful.
Adopting an older child has been an incredible blessing. One thing I always tell Bek is that we not only adopted him but that he adopted us too. Family is about love, not genetics. Adoption is about grace, not perfection.
The image below is the first picture we saw of Bek. The 2nd was taken a couple weeks ago during our time in Seattle. Talk about a transformation! What is even more amazing is what is happening in his heart. Love this boy of ours!