Friday, December 21, 2012

6 Months, 8 Months, 9 Months, 10 Months and 1 Year

This week has a host of anniversaries for Sintayehu...anniversaries of hard places, sad times, and beautiful things. It is all a part of his story, of his personality, of his reaction to various stimuli, and it is important for us to pause for a moment in this busy week of Christmas to remember just how much his life has changed during the last year.

Last Christmas we were waiting...impatiently at see our second child's face, to hear his or her name for the first time. There was one Christmas song that I could not hear without crying:

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
Where the forgotten are
But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you "Merry Christmas."

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow.
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow.
But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that Heaven's angels come to carry you here.

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you "Merry Christmas."

We had no way of knowing at the time, but this was exactly Sintayehu's situation last Christmas. On December 23rd, his mother's case passed the Gambella court system, granting her permission to relinquish her only child to the local orphanage so that he could be adopted. Christmas day was probably one of Sintay's first days away from the only family that he had ever known, and I can't imagine the pain and anguish that he must have been feeling.

10 months ago yesterday, on February 20th, he arrived at Hannah's Hope in Addis Ababa. He had just ridden in a van for 3 days, making the trek from Gambella to Ethiopia's capitol. His life had been disrupted again, and he had no idea what was happening to him. He was terribly sick and dangerously anemic, and he had a horrible infection over one thumb that needed immediate treatment.

 One month later, on March 23rd, Sintay's mother came to see him again. She had just finalized her relinquishment in the national court of Ethiopia. I'm sure that it was hard on both of them to see each other again, and yet the love between them is so clear in the photos that we have from that meeting.

8 months ago yesterday, Mr. S legally became our son when we passed our own court date in Ethiopia. He had spent the previous 2 days getting to know us a little bit, but there was no possible way that he could have known the significance of that day. We stood before a judge and promised to care for him always, to love him as our child. We spent some time with him again that afternoon, and although the meeting wasn't any different for him, it certainly was for us. We understood the depth of what we had promised earlier that day, and now when we held him in our arms, he was really, truly OURS.

6 months ago yesterday we took custody of Sintayehu and became his family forever! He seemed so happy to be with us again during those first few days together and during most of the days since then. Yet, it was just the beginning of another overwhelming transition for him. This time, he was leaving not only his mother and his region, but his entire country, his language, his culture, and a host of special caretakers who deeply loved him.

It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the changes that Sintayehu has seen and experienced over the last year. At the very least, it is perfectly understandable why he can get so sad at times, and why the craziness of the holidays can be a little overwhelming for him. We are so thankful to have him in our lives, and it is good for us to stop and remember every now and then just how short a time he's been with us.

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, "I wish you Merry Christmas!"
Third Day


  1. Oh Larisa....loved this post. It's SO good to remember what our little ones have gone through. That pic of S and his Birth Mother is absolutely precious.

  2. YES lots and lots of transitions....things that we can't understand...and sometimes they can't either.....but God! So glad it is in God's hands...... Beautiful post!

    **The last post made me crack up. I am pretty sure God must have known your sons needed each other....seems like they have some pretty fun personalities ;) he he he he he........