Monday, May 6, 2013

Happy Family Day- I Can Always Feel the Joy

Happy Family Day little Alexander Artur!

holding my new son for the first time- 21 months old

Two years ago today my sweet husband and I stood in a Russian courtroom, surrounded by Russian officials, a Russian Social Worker, a Russian Judge, and our interpreter. We had been told ahead of time that in a Russian court it was customary for the man to do the speaking; I was to keep quiet unless I was directly asked a question. This worried my sweet husband, seeing as I am the talker in the family. But I wasn't worried. When it comes to protecting and standing up for our little family my husband is always spot on and well spoken.

I cannot remember how he answered the questions posed to him but I do remember that just a few questions in our interpreter, Anna, suggested that perhaps "Mrs. Wilkison would like to speak.", suggesting that the judge needed more information. And speak I did.

I told the judge that I loved this tiny little boy. That he had held a special place in my heart since that moment when I first saw him toddling down the long hallway in the orphanage some three months before. I explained that we understood adoption, that we had adopted before, that this little guy had an older brother waiting for him at home. What I didn't say, what I had been instructed not to say was that this tiny almost 2 year old brought me joy. It had been explained to us by our Russian adoption facilitator that there is no Russian translation for the word "Joy". This word would not translate in a way the Russian judge and lawyer would understand. And that gave me a great insight into the country of my youngest son's birth.

So maybe I didn't speak that day about the joy in my heart. But that doesn't mean it wasn't there. And it is still here today.  Two years home already! And he has brought so much joy to me. So much joy. It seems as though sometimes we focus on the struggles. We only see the chaos. We do not take the time to celebrate the successes. We miss the joy. But not today. Today I am thinking only about the joy.

I remember looking down at you, snuggled on my hip in your baby carrier, as we stood on the curb outside the Incheon Airport in Korea, waiting for the hotel bus to pick us up. I remember thinking how surreal that was, me, wearing a baby, dragging a suitcase, alone on a curb in South Korea. I remember surreal, but also remember  joy.

finally coming home- waiting for our plane in South Korea- 24 months old

I remember watching your little body asleep on the floor of the Continental Club at LAX, my body tired as well but unable to sleep. I watched you, thankful you had fallen asleep and I could relax and let my arms, tired from holding you, and my back, weary from wearing you, have a rest. I remember tired, but I also remember joy.

I remember walking off the plane, finally back home, and seeing my oldest son, just four years old, leaping about, trying to climb into my arms. I sat down on a bench, with my husband on my left and my four year old on my right, climbing into my lap, totally squishing his new little brother who was still in the baby carrier strapped to my body. I remember looking down at my new son, clueless to what was going on but not seeming bothered. I felt my husband touching my shoulder as he re-acquainted himself with his new son, who he hadn't seen for two weeks. I re-acquainted myself with my oldest son, who I hadn't seen for four weeks. I remember the joy as I felt the warmth of my growing family around me.

I remember my four year old playing on the floor with his new little brother in those first few days home. Brothers! So much joy.

There have been missteps these past two years. There has been pain and sorrow and longing and not as much peace as I would have liked. But there has also been a new special needs preschool that is helping us figure out how to help our little guy cope and learn. There has been an amazing day care teacher who has worked with us to guide our son. There has been Sunday school teachers and other adults at our church who have stepped up. There have been close friends cheering for me, telling us we are doing OK. There have been in-laws who babysit and give us time to ourselves, and who are making an effort to learn more about early life trauma so they can help even more. There has been so much joy, and this is what we celebrate today, on our son's second Family Day.
brothers, two months home

two months home, checking out a petting zoo


We celebrate this path that has made it very clear to me that I need to step up and add my voice to those screaming for adoption reform. We celebrate the broken road my youngest took to get to us because it showed to us what true suffering is. I have seen unexplainable things and I know what life lies ahead for those orphans left behind. And while this is terribly sad and it may be too late for some of them, still I find joy in having found my passion, so to speak. And I will do good with that passion. I will make changes, however small.

We celebrate this path that has taught me how to be a more patient and kind person. We celebrate this path that has made me an advocate for special needs and has taught me how to stand up for my children. We celebrate this path that has shown to me what compassion truly is, and also has shown me that perhaps I could have stood by my friends a little more strongly when they had young children and struggles of their own.

We celebrate every smiley face on the behavior chart from daycare. Every check mark on his chart at home. Every book that he lets me read without wandering away. Every hug that he returns. Every meal that he eats without melting down.

my rock star, two years later!

I feel joy when my son sings with me and when I see him using his imagination to play with his older brother. I feel joy when he tells me he loves me or signs "I love you". I feel joy when he pumps his arm up and down and says, "YES!" because he is super excited or super proud of himself. I feel joy when he spells his name out loud or names colors or numbers. If I remember, if I can push the chaos away. If I choose, I can always feel the joy.

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