I can’t help but make comparisons between our visits with Jordan in 2011 and our
visits with Daniel now. Jordan was so cute. I’ve looked back to some pictures
from our first visits with him. He had the baby fat in his cheeks, that wide
mouth smile that I adore. Videos of his laugh elicited a collective sigh from
our whole church when we got home. There was this nagging little doubt in my
mind then, “Why doesn’t this kid play?” You know how you can play silly little
games with babies? Like give and take, patty cake, peek-a-boo. Jordan would
watch those sorts of things and laugh when you said boo. But it was an
achievement, years later, when he figured out how to play it. Still, I assumed
at the time that whatever delays Jordan had, we’d make up in good time, just by
virtue of bringing him into our family.
Those expectations were not met and I had a hard time with that. My hopes for
Jordan have had repeated adjustments (read: disappointment). I figured he’d
suffered from neglect and therefore hadn’t progressed, therefore we’d meet his
needs and he’d bounce back. Turns out, many times, I have no clue how to meet
his needs, or even what his needs are (read: guilt). I still have no idea why
Home Depot sends him into fight or flight mode. It has been a hard road forming
a relationship with someone who doesn’t talk, doesn’t respond typically to
touch, is stressed by food, and while dealing with the above emotions myself.
Jordan is my son. Not the son I imagined he would be in 2011 but the son God
gave me and I love him. I have new hopes for him and I am proud of all that he
has accomplished. We are on a journey together. A slower and more painful
journey than I imagined, and I can’t see the destination… but we are going there
Daniel is also adorable. His big brown eyes and crooked smile are real heart
breakers. When I pick him up he wraps his arm around my shoulder. A couple times
now I’ve just carried him around in a newborn cradle hold. He is an easy kid to
fall in love with. I had a lot of fear going to meet Daniel that he would be as
passive as Jordan was but Daniel has not been passive. He displays social skills
already that we still work very hard to encourage in Jordan. Taking turns,
initiating play. Daniel invents interactive games, that is a skill that was way
beyond my wildest hopes. Daniel copies sounds, words, and actions. Again, much
more than I dared hope for. I am heartened by this and grateful for it.
At the same time I am trying to take note of the red flags. When we put a bib on
Daniel to feed him he cries, throws himself backward and becomes stiff as a
board. I think there is a real chance he has trouble coordinating swallowing and
breathing and maybe an acid reflux problem. He screams if you take a toy from
him or don’t give him what he wants. He shuts down in unfamiliar places or
situations. He demonstrates almost no stranger anxiety. He may not have any idea
his sounds are actually communication. It might be simple mimicry and he might
forever struggle to make his feelings known. On the other, hand his greater level
of understanding may well lead to more complicated feelings about his adoptive
journey (read:abandonment, neglect).
I’d give 50-50 odds that we will come back in 6 months to find he has regressed
in health or development. The workers at the orphanage talk about how handsome
Daniel is and how he will be a model because he is thin. This is a four year old
wearing size 18 months clothes. Let’s be realistic people. He may well be model
material but let’s get some meat on this kid! Daniel has one leg in a cast right
now to try to correct some of his club foot. His poor little legs are quite
deformed. To see him walking someday would be a miracle. Not impossible, just a
Miracles happen and I believe God has great plans for both Jordan and Daniel.
But it’s a long and difficult journey we are on. I don’t want the rough spots to
catch me unaware. My hope is that I can spend more time celebrating the gifts we
receive through Daniel and less time dealing with unmet expectations.
I Peter 5:8-11 (The Message)
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like
nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the
only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over
the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever.
It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in
Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on
your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.