Monday, January 26, 2015

Tell Mama Julia

This picture was taken on September 3, 2011.

A lifetime ago.

It was at JFK airport,  and our family was gathered there to meet our son and welcome him home from an orphanage in West Africa.  This little nine-year-old guy walked through the door, wearing his new backpack, and helping the agency escort, Mama Julia, as she carried the two-year-old boy also coming to America that day.  It was the first day we laid eyes on Niko, the first time we saw each other, the first time we hugged.

I'd like to say we lived happily ever after. But we didn't.  Not. Even. Close.

It's been hard.  I thought I knew how hard it would be.

But I had No Idea.  Simply no idea.

Had I known....well, I can only say, if I had known ahead of time....

I won't finish that sentence here.

It's been unimaginably hard.  One day he will no doubt read this blog, and I think of that when I write.  I weigh in my mind what to say, what to withhold.  I know I've been helped by the transparency of other bloggers who have let me and my husband know, by their words, that we are not alone.  And that's been very, very helpful.

It's been hard for Niko, too.  Very hard.  He's tried, though.  We've tried.  We've worked to forge a family.  And I've dared to hope that, especially since this fall, maybe, just maybe, we will make it.

Recently, Niko's been making comments.  He talks a lot, so that's not unusual.  But it's what he's been saying that's been very different.

He's been saying his life is good.

He's been saying he likes his life.

He's been saying he's happy to be homeschooled, happy to be on the basketball team, happy to play floor hockey, happy that he's doing good with everyone.

He's been content.

He's had many, many good days. And when things have gone bad, the bad times have been briefer.  I've even been able to help him through the rough times, he hasn't shut me out.

It's been better.

But it's what he said today that surprised me the most.

He said, "Tell Mama Julia thank you for my family. Tell Mama Julia thank you for my parents, my home, my life.  Tell her I am happy now.  Tell her in the beginning I had trouble, it was hard. But I'm good now, I'm happy now, I eat a lot, I'm getting taller. Can you tell her that?"

Niko doesn't like too much fuss over him.  Then again, he's a twelve year old boy (now 5'8", he's grown enormously!), and that often goes with the territory. So instead of tearfully hugging him, I just smiled, said I would tell her - and tried to quietly memorize every word, every expression, every single phrase, every part of what he'd just said.

We will still have bad days.  I know all that.  Truly.

But for today, I will stand in this moment, mark it with this post of praise, and take note:  Tell Mama Julia I'm happy now.  Tell Mama Julia thank you for my family.

I'll tell her, Niko....

God is safe to trust.