Ah, three months with us already!
Our first two months with Caleb were filled with outings of necessity…grocery store, preschool, shuttling kids to various activities. Now that school is out, and Caleb is more secure with us, we’ve been able to do some fun, all day outings with the family. We recently traveled to Columbus for a baseball tournament. It was his first time in a hotel since China. Of course, with his easy going little personality, he was totally fine with it. We set up his Pack N Play next to our bed, and we inflated the Aerobed to wedge in the minimal amount of open floor space, and we were good to go. Yes, this is how you travel with a family of 6. You get one hotel room, and you bring literally half of the needed sleeping space for your family. We spent two nights playing Musical Beds, taking turns getting kicked in the face by Caleb when he moved to the big bed in the middle of the night. Why do toddlers insist on sleeping sideways?
Month three has taught me that I only thought Caleb was attached to me before. While during those first two months, he did come to Kevin and me freely and resisted strangers, we now see that we are his people. Since school got out in May and his siblings have been home a lot more, Caleb has shown us his jealous side. Whenever Caleb is in my lap and a sibling sits beside me, he protests, “Nooooo!” in a whiny voice and pushes the offender away. We laughed hysterically at first at his antics. I don’t know if this encouraged him or if the green eyed monster is, in fact, growing a little more each day. After a couple of weeks of mini fits when one of the kids joined us on the couch, I finally had to draw the line. I explained to my little baby that he is welcome to take up the lap space, but his brother and sisters are also welcome to snuggle. While he understood none of this, he had his crying fit and then went on as if nothing happened, engaging Annalise in a game of peekaboo.
Caleb has also learned that he has the right to choose now. I’m sure that in the orphanage, the kids ate what was presented, knowing even at an early age that the food came when the food came, and in the best effort to stave off hunger, they should eat everything when meal time rolled around. Breakfast seems to be the meal that he stresses over the most. I’ve learned to start out with Cheerios while I prepare his oatmeal. When the oatmeal bowl is empty, he screams and cries huge crocodile tears, and I offer him more Cheerios. This way, he can eat until he is content. He usually leaves a handful of Cheerios on the tray. With three siblings, it’s always snack time, and they are all very willing to offer whatever they are eating to baby brother. Caleb tells us when he’s “all done” and lets us know when he doesn’t like something. This is rare. So far it has been limited to greek yogurt and blackberries.
Shortly after the month two update, Caleb took his first steps. Now he is all over the place! He is still a little unsteady, but his balance is improving every day. When he first came home and he was cruising around the furniture, he would fall completely over, like a falling tree, making no attempt to protect himself. It was actually a little scary! At some point, his self-protective instincts kicked in, and he learned to put his hands out to break his fall. He often refuses to walk when I’m trying to catch it on video. He wants to be on the move when I’m occupied with cooking or anything else that slightly distracts me from him making his way to the laundry room or the staircase. Sneaky!
I think one of the funniest of Caleb’s new behaviors is his use of the word “Owwww.” This is definitely not limited to actual injury. He superbly feigns a pain-filled state when I hand him off to Annalise or Braden for a moment when I need two hands free. When they reach in, he yells. “Owwwwwwwwwww-wwwwwwwwuh!” Yep, two syllables. He is serious. It is physically painful to be removed from Mommy’s hip. We are making more and more use of the Ergo carrier. It’s mostly when I’m getting ready to cook dinner or when I’m vaccuuming. He likes it, and I don’t mind it either. It’s so much easier than trying to keep up with him when I’m getting it done! I’m not sure how much longer this is gonna fly though since he is enjoying his newfound freedom in toddling all over the house.
Three months ago, we placed our red thumbprints on paperwork and pledged to take care of Caleb forever. On the three month anniversary of Caleb’s adoption, we spent the morning at the zoo, marveling over the animals while Caleb proclaimed, “Oh WOW!” His favorites were the fish and the otter.
There are so many, many things that just hit me hard that Caleb gets to experience. They are things that I never once considered being a big deal with our biological children. It’s moments like these that bring me to tears as I relay them to my Mom on the phone. After the baseball tournament in Columbus was over, we went to Sandusky to Cedar Point. For those non-locals, Cedar Point is a big amusement park filled with mostly big kid, thrill rides. There is virtually zero there for Caleb to do. I argued with the attendant to make my way onto the carousel with him and Waverly. (Seriously, the carousel, for crying out loud. I sat in the stationary seat with him. I was not letting this one go.) Kevin and I took turns riding roller coasters with the other kids, one of us hanging back with Caleb. While we waited, Caleb snacked, or practiced walking, or got a diaper change. We talked with lots of people that day, many curious about his adoption. While we were chatting with a 20 year old guy waiting on his family, Caleb noticed a tree behind us. He looked at me as if to ask, “Is this okay?” I told him it was and leaned him in closer to touch it. He tentatively reached out and quickly recoiled, saying, “Oooooo!” while laughing. We did it over and over and over, and I got teary watching him. I’ve taken trees for granted my whole life. Did I ever once think there was anything special about showing my bio kids a tree? Or leaves? Or a flower? No. Because with them it was a given. Of course they would touch trees. Of course they would see zoo animals. Of course they would share a funnel cake at the fair. But saying “Yes” to adoption has changed my outlook on all of it. What if we had passed on Caleb’s referral? How long would it have been until someone took a chance on this baby? How old would he have been before he touched a tree? How many of them will never, ever have a family to show them an elephant? Or bake them a birthday cake? Or argue their way onto a carousel?
There is a quote that makes me cry. Every. Single. Time I see it circulating on Facebook:
“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”—David Platt
Oh, how these words ring true, even to me. And I have been semi-obsessed with adoption since I was a tween. I both love and hate this quote because of the truth it speaks. I had this ridiculous notion that once we adopted, all the heart ache I had for orphans (or honestly then, just the concept of orphans) would just disappear, like a nice neat little mathematical equation.
Heart ache + an adoption = happiness
It seemed so simple. Until I walked in the orphanage and saw them. Rows and rows of cribs. Babies in those cribs silently crying. You wouldn’t know it unless you saw the tears rolling down their cheeks. The older kids. Singing a song for an audience of mommies and daddies who would be taking the babies in their arms home to a family. My heart is broken even more now that I have seen the ones who were left behind. No matter how nice the nannies and the orphanages are, they are not enough. I laugh now that I think back to Kevin and me talking about whether or not we could be enough for four kids. Let me tell you, YOU are enough. Your family is enough. Your crazy schedule, even though you think it is too much, allows for enough time and attention. In that crazy way only God can do, He can make it happen. And in time, you don’t know how you ever considered life without this.