Bellybutton

There have been many surprises over the past five months – since the day he toddled into my arms.

One of the most poignant to me is how often I think of his mother.

I am his mama.  I am smooching his face, drying his tears, changing his diapers, teaching him to share, cuddling him, smoothing his hair/his heart, and showing him how we love.

But before me, for two and a half years, there were a few nannies.

And before then, for three days and nine months before that, there was a mother who intimately knew him – her sacred position, fixed.  Another woman who felt him growing inside her, who felt her son roll, hiccup, and come forth into our light.

As I touched his belly button this morning, as I often do, I could not help but ponder over the woman who once was his everything.

Does he resemble her?  Do her lips peak into a little cupid’s bow like his?  How is the curvature of her face?  Are her ear lobes petite like his?   Does she have his calm spirit?  Does she love books, animals, and being outside like him?  Does she have a contagious joy about her as he does?

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This is normal really.  A brief mention of someone wondering about their past, or a medical professional asking me about Leo’s medical history, will send me down a rabbit trail of thoughts and possibilities as to his story before me.

The questions that dance in my mind will remain unanswered, which lends itself to imagining possible scenarios.  I think I have visualized Leo’s mother in every possible social construct, wanting to connect with her situation and her decision (or lack thereof as she may not have had a choice at all).

I know I’ll always wonder and imagine.  

And if I feel this way, if I do; I cannot presume to grasp the thoughts that will one day play in Leo’s mind.

Thoughts, thoughts for years to come but for now – his belly button – a smooth, round, perfect reminder of a life that predicated his and made his possible.

…A life that we will forever Honor and hold high in Gratitude.

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Red bags, donations, and Lasts

I found this unpublished blog post from right before we picked up Leo.  Hard to believe that this was over 7 months ago now…

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We are now in China but as I pondered on the final few days right before travel, three things pop out; notably red bags, donations/helpers, and lasts.

Red bags: Leaving our children for over two weeks to go pick up Leo is one of the very toughest parts of this journey. I am going to miss them so much that it truly feels painful. All of the sweet smiles, giggles, cuddles, shared jokes, new accomplishments and lessons learned; all of it – missing from my view. Going is necessary and worth it of course, but hard nonetheless.

In order to give them something to look forward to each day and something to help them keep tabs on how long it is until we are all together again, I purchased red bags (red is a symbol of joy, love and happiness in China) for each day. I labeled each bag with the date and a description of what mommy, daddy and Leo would be doing that day. There is very little that rivals opening up a new present at our house so I knew that this daily activity would be a big hit for our kids. Inside each bag, I put small things such as stickers, candy, play foam, water colors, modeling clay, etc., and a few bigger items that were put into a basket nearby with a number on them corresponding to the number found inside of the red bag (board game of Guess Who?, canvases for painting, bubble wands, etc.)

img_8806So far this activity has been a hit and I’m thankful that they have something little to look forward to each day and a way to hear about what we’re doing over here so they can feel more connected to this journey.

Donations & Helpers: The cry for help went out for items needed in the Chinese orphanages four days before we left. That is a short time frame but our friends are AMAZING!!

The last two days before we left, the UPS driver must have driven up our driveway 15 times, dropping off package, after package. Friends from all chapters of our lives contacted me telling me that items were on the way. It was seriously overwhelming to be contacted by people that you haven’t seen in YEARS, telling you that they are joining you, partnering with you in the journey ; gah! heart overload! The packages just kept coming!

Sweet local friends were passing me bags in person and dropping off donations, in addition to meals for my family and hot coffee for my tired mind while I packed. This, on top of the awesome family and dear friends who have volunteered to care for our children or make meals for our family while we are gone – our cups seriously runneth over. We really could not feel more joyful!

So many hands and hearts are with us here in China as we bring 1 large suitcase and 2 large duffle bags, all stuffed to the absolute max – every pocket filled, to the orphanages here which so need these supplies. What a wonderful blessing you are to these children and their caretakers, and such a source of encouragement to us as well. Thank you!!!

Lasts: The last day was marked by series of lasts. The last time I will put Noah down for a nap as my youngest baby. The last time we will gather at the table as a family of 6. The last time we will all smush onto the couch together before another little bottom is vying for a comfortable spot too. The last time I will look back in my rearview mirror and see only 4 sweet faces. And on and on …..

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Our last day-time family picture as a family of 6 taken a few days before departure for China.

The lasts are always bittersweet as change innately is. (Did I cry as I looked at Noah’s sweet face before naptime – call him my baby and smooch his cheeks 100 times? Yes!)

Anytime a new addition comes into the family, the dynamic is forever shifted. A new season is upon our family now; one that is very familiar to us in one sense and yet due to the circumstances, so very new.

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Pj pic the night before we left.  Smiley kids and super exhausted parents; the norm!

As much as we cherish and will always hold so dear the memories of the past, our family’s story will be forever changed, our lives indelibly marked by adoption, and we could not be more excited!

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