Monday, March 25, 2013

half a year gone by

It has officially been six months since John and I hopped on plane to begin the next chapter of the story God is writing for us. In some ways it seems like it has hardly been that long, in others it feels like they've been home for as long as I can remember.
It hardly seems like 6 months since a confused, scared, underweight 13 month old was placed in my arms, at 10:00 at night on the front steps of a convent turned hotel. Six months since I looked in his almond shaped chocolate eyes and tried to reassure him that his world hasn't just been turned upside down again even when it had.  I can remember it like it was yesterday. He was placed in my arms and just stared at me. He felt so light considering the only children I had held lately weighed far over 35 pounds and he weighed in at a mere 14. All of the 12 and 18 month clothes I brought swallowed him and I found a new use for my hair ties to keep his clothes on him.  I remember bringing him back up to our room and the only thing I had of his former life was his outfit and one bottle they said he liked. They told me he was a night owl, sometimes staying up until 11pm. And that is it. That is the history I have on him. Other than a story that is his to share, I knew very little about my own son.  We went up to the room and he snuggled scared on my chest and didn't move a muscle. For 10 minutes he laid there. I covered him in a blanket and we laughed and cried and tried to get him to respond. Shortly after we changed his diaper and as I tickled his feet we saw his first smile. Levi Moses was now ours. He smiled and laughed for the next hour until we finally decided to put him to bed. We ourselves had just finished a 30 hour journey to get here and now our life with Levi had begun. 
The next morning we woke up for breakfast and went down to the lobby to wait for his sister, our daughter. My nerves were high and my expectations were low. I knew it would not be an embrace of gratitude or a feeling of home for her to meet us. She, far more so than him, would be scared, timid, unsure. And that she was. In she walked, slowly, head down, steps behind our facilitator. We were told she had cried leaving the orphanage and was very upset to go. Unknown was all that was ahead of her, and she had braved one impossible transition already only to now go to the hands of two people who looked like none she had ever seen. She would not meet eyes with me as I crouched down to her level. She looked like a shell of a child. No smile, no emotion. Solemn and strong. The opposite of who I know her to be now (with exception of her strength). We walked her up to the room. I will never forget her orange and brown sweatshirt, despite it being 85 degrees that day, and the jean jumper 3 sizes too big tied on to her tiny frame. Her shoes were several sizes too small and the imprint took a while to fade after we slipped them off. Her feet and legs were dry and caked in dirt. I remember thinking as I wiped off her legs, how strange and scary this must be for her. Her clothes were dirty and didn't fit or smell good so I took them off. She had no underwear on and my heart sank as I saw her protruding belly and scars on her skin. This is my daughter I thought. Why God? What has she been through at such a young age. I don't know. I just had a mental picture of Jesus taking me and washing my dirt off and calling me daughter. For the next 7-8 hours she remained lifeless, emotionless. She would only respond to me if I offered her food. The only words she would say was to potty in her language. She would let me hold her but not respond to touch or affection. I remember thinking the road to healing for her would be so hard. She barely played with the toys we brought, she would not speak, smile or laugh.  Later that night I played videos Reese and Wheeler made, showing them their beds and talking to them about how excited they were. We then skyped with them shortly after, and it was like she awoke from her sleep. She was smiling, mimicking their silly faces, trying to say their names "weese!" "weela!". I was overjoyed to see her childness come out. 
Each day after was a journey of ups and down, shutting down and opening up. Learning each other was hard, for all of us. There has been a song that is rocking my world lately. Oceans by Hillsong united... 

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

These words are my story. God had called me into the deepest of waters, where I was in over my head and all I could see in the future was storms and uncertainty. This was a huge opportunity for me to fail. Failure was certain on my own. And that is where he wanted me, in the deepest waters where only grace abounds. We were led to a dangerous place, where comfort and self had to be abandoned. He has called me to this hard place because that is where I can find him most easily. 
I could not have scripted the transformation that has taken place over the last six months.  That shy scared little boy that was so small he could not even put weight on his legs now runs, jumps and rides his little scooter down the hall, squealing the whole way. He now says Mama, daddy, ball, up, more, doggie, baby, out, bye bye, eyes, ears, belly, shoe, woof woof. He still would rather be snuggled on my chest than anywhere else, so that much hasn't changed! But he is a joy.
Maran is no longer that quiet, emotionless shell of a girl. She is so full of life, gratitude, excitement, and sillyness. All she wants to do is exactly what her older siblings do. And she longs for affection and asks for it frequently, "hug time mama?" and purses those big beautiful lips at me. She loves "ticklish" as she calls it and loves being outside. There are some remnants of her life of survival. She can tie, zip, carry Levi, button, dress and wash herself better than her older siblings can. She speaks in 10-15 word sentences as she rambles on about lots of things. She desires to go back and visit africa. She tells me she wants to show me where she lived (although we will never know that) but then come back home to 'Merica and live with mommy and daddy. She talks about Jesus and God and has lots of questions about how she was made and is so surprised every time I tell her she is made perfect and beautiful, just how they wanted her. "Me pwetty mama? But you so pwetty mama." She says. She makes friends quickly and warms up quickly to others. She desires relationships. She loves to have attention and affection from others. She loves it most of all from her daddy. "Swing please? Ticklish please daddy?" She can get hurt fairly badly and not shed a tear. Her strength surprises me. She wants to please. She wants to help. She wants to pitch in around the house. I see these things and think about her mother. I can tell her birth mother did her best. Sacrificed, and loved her the best she could. I know nothing of her circumstance and only bits and pieces from a vague story. But I can see her story in her present. There are glimpses of it in the memories she shares. 
I am so so grateful she does not hate Congo for what she has been through. We talk about it a lot. And what a beautiful place it is, despite the hard things that go on there. Me 'dopted mommy? Yes sweet girl. You are adopted. I want her to be proud of her past, proud of her country, proud of the story that makes her the girl she is today. There will be hard discussions, identity crises, confusing questions, but we will make it through the deepest waters as his grace abounds on us all. 
Six months. 

Six months since their identity change. Their transplant. Their trauma. The new chapter unfolding. It is not beautiful. It is not whole. It is a work in progress. Imperfect perfection. But it is our story. I am so grateful to a God that commands us to care for the least of these, to take in the orphan, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked. And when you do it, it is not a chore, or a task, or an obligatory burden. No, even the hardest of days it is a privilege for me. It is my rescue. It is where I find him the easiest, in the deepest oceans, where my feet may fail.

post signature


  1. Love you, Kylie. So beautiful.

  2. Kylie, that was so beautiful. I'm sitting here crying as I remember our time together in Uganda last year and see all that God has accomplished through you since then. So love hearing your story as it progresses. Thanks so much for sharing with us. How I would love to come to your house and visit and see you with these precious children! Hugs... ~Shelli

  3. This is beautiful. It's so encouraging to read about the "imperfectly perfect" process of healing. Your kids are beautiful.

  4. Beautiful family....if ever you find a need...

    <3 Dawn

  5. thanks for sharing. We're at the other end of this long road toward adopting from the Congo. Stories like yours give me hope and joy! :) Blessings as you continue to settle into the beauty of your lives together.

  6. This is so encouraging...thank you for your openness and honesty.

  7. Awesome post. God is so good.

  8. Wow, Kylie, I think it just got a little dusty here at my desk as I was reading that :) Incredible and thanks for sharing. We are so thankful for the steps you and John took and the resource you are to so many in sharing your experiences so others can go through with it as well. Can't wait!