Does God ever just grab your attention at the perfect time and make you realize an unpleasant truth about yourself ? Make you realize that you've been incredibly selfish and all focused on you when there were much bigger things going on? Make you wonder when you were really going to learn to be more like Him? Yeah, well, that just happened to me yesterday, and I really needed it.
It had been a somewhat frustrating day in Mother-land. After a wonderful weekend with Daddy around, Yikealo was fairly distraught when David had to go back to work yesterday morning. Throughout the day, we had been through a number of melt-downs over absolutely NOTHING. He had decided to decorate my kitchen table with permanent green marker. He had hurt his foot (very minorly, but enough to cause screaming and sobbing for about 40 minutes) by messing around with our exercise bike after I had repeatedly told him not to. He took over an hour to eat his breakfast of oatmeal and a banana. He spilled his milk all over by shaking the lidless cup up and down. He wet his pants (while we were not at home) about 5 minutes after I had taken him to the bathroom. He constantly asked for Ababa and then pouted when I said that Ababa was working and would be home a little later. By the time David DID get home, I was pretty tired of the whining, and I told David that HE could deal with the child for awhile after we were finished with supper.
So, David and Yikealo headed off to "lift weights" together. (Yikealo is fascinated by David's exercise routine.) I headed off to the computer for some peace and quiet and to check my e-mail, and that's when God managed to get my attention. We had gotten a message from Julie, our adoption case-manager, and it included pictures of June 5th - the last meeting between Yikealo and his birth-mom. I am not going to post pictures of her at this time - Yikealo hasn't seen them yet - but here is one of him from that meeting.
I know this look: it's the same look that he gives us when he is showing us something new and he is looking for our approval. I also know what he is pointing to in this photo - the album that I had sent to him with pictures of him, us and our house.
Here he is again, looking at our Christmas photo from last year. This photo was missing from the album when we met Yikealo in Ethiopia, along with two of the photos of him. I know that Mihret has them now - one last memory of her final meeting with the child that she had given birth to.
I wonder what things went through her mind at that meeting...it was the same day that our court case had been approved. She had ridden on a bus for many hours to the city of Addis Ababa in order to finalize the relinquishment of her child by attending the court proceedings. It had been three months to the day since Yikealo had arrived at Hannah's Hope, and I've been told that he could understand very little of what she said to him. He had already lost so much of Tigrinya, the language that they shared, and instead was speaking mostly in the Amharic that he had picked up at the orphanage. He treated her like a stranger for the first several minutes, not wanting anything to do with her. Eventually though, he warmed up and brought a stool over to sit beside her while he showed her his new treasured photos. What was her thought of the smiling Ferenji couple that were going to be raising her son in a matter of weeks? What was her thought of the photos of our house - very small by American standards, but no doubt palatial to her?
Her hands show up in several of the photos - her fingers are completely eaten away by her leprosy, leaving only a few shortened, blackened stubs where they used to be. Yet she is smiling in several pictures - a bittersweet smile to be sure - but I can see the joy along with the pain in her eyes as her lost little boy leans against her once again. Having lived with Yikealo for the last 3 weeks, I know how valuable my hands are - I can't imagine trying to take care of this energetic, full-of-life child without the full use of my hands! How did she manage for so long, and what was it that finally pushed her over the edge into the arena of reliquishment and adoption?
And the most painful question for me as I cried at my keyboard - what would she have given yesterday to have had the chance to listen to his whining once again when he wasn't getting his way, to change his clothes after an accident, to watch his inner artist drawing on a new surface, to sit beside him while he dawdled at a meal, and to gently massage and kiss his "injured" foot? How dare I - HOW DARE I - complain about these kinds of minor things? How dare I lose patience with him when he's missing David - how is he to know for sure that Ababa hasn't left him too?
I was still crying when my two guys emerged from exercising. Yikealo gave me a very puzzled look as I hugged him and pressed my teary cheek against his; then he grabbed David's hand and mine and led us both back to the basement bedroom. There is a tri-fold mirror mounted on the dresser in that room, and he loves to look at himself in it. He wanted both of us to sit down on the bed; then he climbed up behind us, wrapped his little arms around both of our necks, and pressed his face in between ours, beaming at the reflection of his new family.