I sat on the porch swing sipping coffee this morning as I watched my three middle school kids wait for the bus at the end of the driveway.
Girl, Boy, Girl.
I watched my son goofing around, and his sisters watching him in quiet amusement and marveled how a series of events that occurred during his toddler years changed the trajectory of his life.
Life, like a mighty river, courses past us, over us, and around us. It smooths our rough edges and carves deep grooves into our soul. We are molded by the flood of it.
Adoption, like the flash floods that descend from the mountains of Haiti, changed us all. My baby boy was so young during those years of excruciating waiting but one of his earliest memories, at age two, is of sitting in a circle with his family as we held hands praying for his sisters to come home.
At two, he learned what some western Christians only discover somewhere in adulthood, and some never encounter at all- The majority of the world groans under the weight of injustice and oppression. It strains with desperate longing for the return of The Prince of Peace.
At 3 1/2, he learned to grieve. That is how hold he was when his sisters, ages 5 and 2 came home. Everyone was trying to adjust. Everyone needed Mommy all to themselves. Suddenly, there wasn’t enough of me to go around and my baby boy’s heart was broken in the middle of it.
Then one day, I looked out onto the back patio to find my baby boy and one of his new Haitian sisters chatting and giggling. One spoke English, the other Kreyol. I watched them in bewilderment for awhile before walking outside to investigate.
“Do you guys understand each other?” (I asked in both languages. We are a bi-lingual family for a year in which I said everything twice.)
“Yes!” he laughed.
“Oui” she smiled.
Just like that, his life shifted forever.
He has always been close to his older biological sister, but adoption gave him the gift of being surrounded by three sisters and a mother who positively adored him. We have taught him he is charming by laughing hysterically at all of his jokes and convinced him he is gorgeous by continually commenting on how adorable he is. We have daily driven home the truth that he is is lovable by showering him with affection.
We have smiled indulgently as he strutted out ahead of the female pack, flexing his manly protectiveness when we have gone on adventures together, all while whispering to each other…
“Look how cute he is…”
To which he shouted back-
“I can hear you! I am not cute!”
There have been moments when he has behaved in a way that is contrary to the character of a godly man, and we have soberly, and sadly, and with all the love in our hearts, corrected him.
“That is not the kind of man we are trying to raise here, buddy. You can do better.”
We have taught him lessons on equality that words could never communicate.
“Mom,” he asked, “why do people say ‘run like a girl or hit like a girl?’ Girls aren’t weak.”
And this morning, as he stood at the bus stop between his two brown skinned, dredlocked sisters, I knew he had learned lessons of racial equality that I could have never taught him with mere words.
What kind of man will he be? The choice remains his, but I believe with all of my heart that the river of adoption, though painful at times, has sculpted beautiful possibilities into the essence of my son’s soul.