12 days ago I was sitting at a conference table in a government office in Cali, Colombia, attempting to have a fairly complex meeting about the specifics of temporary custody arrangements, all in spanish, when all of a sudden, a tiny little fireball of energy shot around the corner with a giggle and appeared beside Nate’s elbow at the table. We were stunned. Then, just as quick, he was off again, disappearing around a barrier of filing cabinets, a caretaker sprinting after him. The room burst into a frenzy as everyone scrambled to get the child and the meeting back in order. They watched us carefully and apologetically, trying to gauge our reaction to the unexpected interruption.
Nate and I just turned and looked at each other. That was Luís.
We’d had no idea he was even in the room.
We could tell from the reaction of everyone there that a sneak-peak before the formal introduction isn’t exactly protocol when it comes to adoption meetings, and the reason is obvious: There was no way Nate and I could focus on anything at all after that moment. After we locked eyes with him, though just for that tiny fraction of a second, it was over. I don’t know what happened in our meeting after that…I signed some documents, I looked over Luís’ medical file, I continued having a conversation in spanish about our duties as temporary custodians. I don’t remember any of it. My mind was on the little boy around the corner.
When the time came, our first “official” meeting was hurried, slightly awkward, and really chaotic. Luís didn’t understand what was going on, the twins were hyper and tired from not having a nap, I was in total disbelief that this moment was happening. Right then. I was living it, and I couldn’t believe it.
Only a few moments later it was time to go, and Luís couldn’t figure out why these strangers (us) were taking him away. Leaving the office was rough. Bedtime was even rougher; he grieved deeply the loss of everything he knew, and my heart broke watching him struggle with the emotions of something far too weighty for a toddler to comprehend. Nate finally snuggled him until he fell asleep wrapped in his daddy’s arms.
Later that night, while all 3 of my children slept soundly in the next room, I laid in my bed with the lyrics of one of my favorite praise songs flowing through my heart. I have sung it before, but it had never hit me so profoundly. I look back on the way this story has unfolded and can’t help but marvel. So many pieces to this story, so many people involved, so many parts that are broken and sad and hard. But also so many glimmers of beauty amidst the broken pieces. So many praiseworthy pieces that proclaim the wonder of God.
And then I think, too, of the way that I have kissed him goodnight for the past 12 nights. The way he jumps in his daddy’s arms every time Nate walks into the room. The way I catch him laughing so hard at Noah’s antics, or wrapping Barrett in a spontaneous hug and saying, “mi hermano, mi hermano!” I think of how far he’s come already since that first hard night. The way he’s thriving now that he’s in a family. HIS family. His very own family.
Things are still hard. We’re only 12 days in, and I won’t pretend it’s easy or perfect. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and most of those moments aren’t the kind that produce sweet pictures for me to post on facebook. The meltdowns, grief, outbursts, and emotional strain don’t get Instagrammed. It’s a process for all of us. A messy, difficult, beautiful process.
But I remember and reflect on and hunt for those tiny moments of beauty and hope throughout the day, the way God is knitting this little boy’s life inextricably with mine, and I fall back into praise again, humming that song to myself and rejoicing over the way that God knows. and acts. and loves. and RESTORES.
In the past 12 days, I have fallen in love with the gospel all over again.
BEHOLD OUR GOD seated on His throne;
Come let us adore Him!
BEHOLD OUR KING– nothing can compare;
Come let us adore Him!