March 23, 2015: It’s a BOY!
It’s a boy who is one year old. Who doesn’t understand our words. Who doesn’t know why he’s being handed to us, these two crazy white people who are obviously in on the joke, and he is not. Our excitement is palpable, as is his confusion. It’s a moment that Kevin caught on video that I both love and hate to watch. Those couple of minutes were the culmination of years of paperwork and prayer, and even though we were so ready, and we had already been the parents of three other one year olds, I fumbled awkwardly in the video. I held a container of puffs and a lion lovey, and I momentarily froze, not knowing how to handle these two insignificant items while I attempted to take our baby from the orphanage director’s arms. Caleb immediately cried, and I tried to soothe him with a language he didn’t understand. He seemed like such a young baby, with his sad, quiet little cry. I love knowing that at that moment he was finally in our arms, and I hate knowing that was the beginning of such a huge change for Caleb.
April 23, 2015: Boy, oh BOY!
I can’t believe that it’s already been a month since that moment. If we had random video snippets of one month later, it would look something like this. In one shot, Caleb is riding on my left hip as we walk Waverly into preschool. We stop at the desk where he charms Mrs. Nancy with his toothy grin. We continue on to Waverly’s classroom. She hangs up her backpack and extends her arms to take Caleb from me. She wraps her arms around his chest and carries almost half her body weight a few steps to the door so she can show off her baby brother yet again to her teachers. A few hours later, when we go to pick her up, she runs out the door and shouts, “Caleb!!!” before assaulting him with hugs and kisses as he kicks his legs and smiles at her. In another shot, Annalise is reading to Caleb on the couch when they hear the alarm system chime. She scoops him up and runs to the garage door where they can meet Kevin before he has a chance to walk in. In another shot, we are all at Braden’s baseball game. People cheer and clap, and even though he doesn’t know why, it seems like a great idea, so Caleb claps and loudly babbles too, and he is quite proud of himself.
A few days ago, I sent off our one month post-placement report to our adoption agency.
It’s really rather simple. We have to answer a couple of pages of questions about health, development and attachment, and we submit candid pictures showing Caleb’s daily life. As I went through iPhone pictures and filled it out, I reflected on how much Caleb has changed since we met him a month ago. Gone is the timid little baby. He is still sometimes quiet in public, but in familiar places like the preschool hallway, he is a spunky little toddler who wins people over with his high fives.
During dinner every night, we each share our best and worst moments of the day. Caleb always has something to contribute. He slaps his hands on the table, demanding everyone’s attention and jabbers away about nothing and everything, expressively raising an eyebrow during the really interesting parts. Speaking of dinner, this kid eats everything. He realized very early on that sometimes what was on his plate differed from the rest of the family, and he wasn’t having any part of that. So no matter what we’re eating, we must cut it up into itsy bitsy pieces that six little teeth can handle because the boy is not eating applesauce when the rest of us are feasting on spicy tacos. He is also beginning to refuse his bottle in favor of a sippy cup. For a baby who just four weeks ago had heard no English, he definitely understands now what “hungry” and “eat” mean, and he is always on board, eagerly (and not at all quietly) awaiting his next culinary adventure!
Some other fun new things Caleb has experienced in his time as a Phillips kid…
The grocery store. At first it was just a cool place with lots of colorful items. Now he knows that all of that cool stuff is food, and he smacks his lips as we shop.
Baseball games. He seems to enjoy his stroller and the excitement of cheering for the team.
Endless toys. At our adoption training, we were told not to overwhelm our new kiddos with an abundance of toys, as they are not used to a vast selection. We’ve kept a small basket of toys in the family room since day one. He seems satisfied with those, but the other day, a friend came over, and her two year old opened the coffee table trunk to reveal the Littlest Pet Shop collection hidden inside. Caleb gave me a look as if to say, “Seriously? You’ve been holding out on me!” and he quickly crawled over to inspect the new spoils.
The car seat. He is still learning to tolerate this one. In the beginning, he would immediately scream when we buckled him in, and I would plug my phone in to play Laurie Berkner for him. After a week of this, I could no longer tolerate Doodlebugs and the ABCD Medley, so I have begun training him to like Big Daddy Weave and some other of my favorites so that we can at least have a little variety.
His first hair cut. Even though she didn’t cut much, I miss his crazy hair already.
Crazy love. One of my big fears with adoption was that our other three kids would be jealous and that there wouldn’t be enough of Mommy and Daddy to go around. I was afraid that the kids would be less than thrilled to have a new sibling that took up space and time and attention. In the past month, I have not seen one instance of this. What I wasn’t prepared for was the fighting over who gets to feed Caleb or who picks out his jammies or who spends 35 seconds longer with Caleb than the others. I swear, it’s almost to the point of setting a timer and hanging a wall chart to ensure that the Caleb love is equally dispersed among the siblings. It’s a great problem to have. He is so, so loved, and he loves back with his hugs and giggles. Waverly has become his shadow, holding her hands a couple of inches from his waist as he cruises around the couch so that he doesn’t fall. I’ve heard her tell him, “I never, ever want you to get hurt, Caleb.”
We missed exactly 374 days of Caleb’s life. Yet, somehow, in the 30 short days that we’ve known him, it seems like he’s always been here. I absolutely cannot imagine not having him in our family. What stupid, stupid people we would have been, and what we would have kept our kids from experiencing if we had ignored God’s push for us to adopt. All the fears that caused me to lose tears and sleep…God has already shown me that they were for nothing. Now when I get a little weepy, it’s not because I’m overwhelmed with four kids or laundry or any of the things I expected. My tears are those of sheer joy and happiness, and most of all thankfulness for our family’s amazing blessing.