Monday, May 20, 2013

Praise, Perspective & Privilege

     I recently purchased this necklace from a family who is raising money to bring their little girl home.  You request a map of an area you adopted from (or that is special in some other way) and then add various charms, and they make the necklace with the profits going towards their adoption.  I love all of the ways people have found to raise money, and wish I was as creative as this family!  My necklace has a map with Krasnodar, the region we adopted from, a cross, Matryoshka doll, and a custom made charm with the Krasnodar Coat of Arms.  I love it.....and it's surprisingly become quite the conversation starter.

               It seems that every time I wear it someone is complimenting it and then asking what the charms are.  My response is usually met with obvious surprise, followed by a trail of questions.  I've found this watch people's reactions and to hear their questions and curiosity.  I love being able to shed light on adoption, particularly international, and always hope it gets people thinking.  There's only one part that makes me uncomfortable.  The latest reaction we received when sharing a bit of our story, was that the individual had "thought we were just a regular couple."  Ha!  We are just a regular couple....just two "normal" people like anyone else.  At our appointment today a woman commented on how admirable it is that we adopted......don't get me wrong, I completely understand that they are complimenting us, but it is just so uncomfortable!  I sort of cringe inside when I hear things like this.....and I think of all of my hesitation, how often God had to puuussshhh me, all of my doubts and fears, and on and on and on......and then I look at this precious boy and, the only thing admirable is that God graciously allowed us, ordinary people, to experience this incredible journey and call Levi our son.  We are the ones who have been blessed!


          While the necklace brings one set of reactions, Levi's even more obvious casts brought an entirely different response.  As the weather has become warmer, I became excited to be able to dress Levi in shorts.  It was quite the challenge to get his pants over both casts, and the shorts were much quicker and prompted a happier reaction from the little guy who hates to be dressed and changed!  What I hadn't considered was the attention that these exposed casts would receive!  Truly it doesn't matter and this is not to complain or throw a pity party.  But I was really surprised by the reactions I received!  Peoples eyes would instinctively travel from Levi's face down to his casts and their expressions would change.  It is a curious thing to see a little toddler with two huge casts and his feet turned out in such an extreme manner.  I get that!  I didn't mind when people asked what happened.....they're curious, no problem.  What I found unsettling where the glares, the whispering and the oh poor baby that seemed to imply I was clearly a terrible mother for whatever I allowed or caused to happen to my son.  Of course I'm sure this wasn't always the case, and I can't really assume what people are thinking.  But it made me step back and often do I assume the worst, or judge someone based on outward appearances or circumstances, when there is likely so much more to the story!  We went to the zoo last week and it was hot!  Many of the moms were sitting at the playground area while their kids played in the water.  I took Levi to the far end where things were dry and set him down.  I could feel the dozen or so pairs of eyes watching him and looking at me.  But at that moment all I felt was...proud.  I watched my little guy crawl lightening fast over to a stage like area.  He climbed up with ease, turned, sat down and started banging pots and pans together (why there are pots and pans at the zoo, don't ask me, but he loved it!).  He was so proud of himself, enjoying this experience to the fullest, and I was so proud of him! I hope they were inspired....I hope they saw the resiliency of this child's spirit.......not the two legs covered in casts, legs bent and feet turned out.....not pity for him, or judgement towards me.......Can I be honest? I wonder what I would have saw.

       "A child born to another woman calls me mommy.  The magnitude of that tragedy
                               and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me."
                                                     - Jody Landers

         We also get asked when we'll tell Levi, or how we'll tell him about his adoption.  Sure I share openly now when people comment on the necklace or when it comes up, but there will come a day in the near future where it will be up to him to share.....or not.  But one thing is for sure, he'll always know the truth.  I know there will come a day when the real questions start and when deeper conversations will be necessary, but for now?  He's just a toddler : )  He'll know the word adopted before he really knows what it means.  This is his story.....his life didn't begin on January 21st when we walked out the doors of the baby home.  We've pieced together as much as we possibly could and created a lifebook that shares about his life before coming home, and we've already shared it with him.  He really just wanted to crinkle the pages and rip the paper, but eventually he'll want to look.  And when he asks, we'll answer as best, and as age appropriately, as we can.  Sometimes, especially when rocking Levi to sleep, I just sit in wonder.....amazed that he is here, that he is our son, and how privileged we are to raise him and love him.  It's really quite easy to "forget" all that has happened to bring us all to this place as a family of four....because he's just our son and we are just living life.   But for him, there's so much loss that has brought him to this place.....and for his birth mother, whatever her story may be.....such loss.  I pray that she has found peace, and I pray I will never take for granted the privilege I have of being this precious boy's mommy.

As an update to all that I wrote yesterday....Levi has officially taught me to never again claim something is impossible, especially for him.  One look at the dobbs bar and I just knew he wouldn't be able to stand or walk with it...obviously. The doctor, when I asked if there were any restrictions, reiterated my thoughts in saying that he obviously can't stand with the shoes/bar but when they're off (for the one hour a day) he is free to do whatever he wants.  Well, Levi woke from his nap this afternoon and when I walked into his room.......he was standing in his crib.  He is seriously the most determined, strong willed, problem solver I've ever known.  He proceeded to prove me wrong over and over all evening....and on this rare occasion, I'm more than happy to be wrong!  And then, I realize that I shouldn't have been so surprised......after all........

He was walking with one untreated foot and his newly free right leg back in Russia when his first cast came off......

And again when he had his first of many casts put on when he came home.....

And yet again when he had both leg bent and feet turned out in two casts.....

Why would this bar stop him? Especially when there are balloons to get!

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