Sunday, July 4, 2010
I left the piles and lists and sat down with the big kids to snuggle and read while our baby tyrannosaurus was napping. Someone chose, No Matter What, by Emma Dodd, a sweet little story about an elephant and his mama. We own it because it was on a ‘good adoptive reads’ list somewhere and while we were waiting for our son I spent most of my anxiety at Amazon.com. The story is not about adoption, but it is about the unconditional love of parents for their children. Both illustrations and rhymed text are simple, exploring the different feelings any kid has throughout the day.
The page that says, “I love you when you are sad” shows the baby elephant on the far left, alone and blending in to the grey rain. After we had turned the page, Mister spoke up. “Turn back, I have to show you something.” We turned back and he explained, “Dat boy’s dad walks too fast. Dat is why his is sad and crying and by himself.” I looked again at the thick line of black pen that outlined the elephant and only vaguely distinguished him from the rain all around. I saw him through the eyes of my son and felt the things Mister knows rend my heart.
He understands getting left. He does not understand the pain of loss or the heavy emptiness in the lap of his first mother. He does not understand her choices, her sacrifice, or her love for him. He cannot. Not yet, maybe never. But he does understand rain and loved ones who get too far ahead.
When we met our son and realized that our very presence caused him tearful anxiety, we agreed that one parent would touch and hold him first, giving him time to get to know us and respecting his fear of us as strangers. The first night we were all together he slept between us in our bed. I woke at one point to feel him crawling onto my chest and patting my face. He sat on my lap on the plane and I carried him through the many airports by which we hop-scotched home. He would not touch or sit with daddy but if we got more than five feet away from my husband in a crowd, Mister would protest. So he clung to my neck and we traversed the crowds, willing my husband with his gaze to stay close. It was weeks before he let daddy rock him to sleep but even in those early moments Mister was fiercely loyal and empathetic, his heart a tender shoot.
And so I pray, as I have since before he came home, that God would grow roots deep down into his fertile soul. Roots that feed a beautiful tree, that may sway but always stands: in wind; in rain; growing good fruit in season; providing shade. I pray that he gets to know his Heavenly Father who will never leave him or forsake him, but walk tall, strong and able a half step ahead all his days.
“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you." Deuteronomy 31:8