This little guy keeps us laughing. Most of the time. Constant whistling, singing, silliness. Most of the time. Smothering me with hugs and super wet kisses. Most of the time.

Today is his “Gotcha Day.” When I first heard of that concept- celebrating the day that an adopted child arrives into their new family, I smiled. Thoughts of a thankful child receiving what they longed for. Family.

Don’t get me wrong, we will celebrate today. (He has already been out to breakfast with Dad- his love language) Will our sweet boy celebrate being with us? I hear people say, “he is so blessed to have you guys. I bet he is so thankful.”

Is he happy to be with us? Yes. Most of the time. He has plenty of food to eat, a toothbrush, shoes, underwear, a Samsung Galaxy tablet that he saved birthday money and chore money to buy. All of those things, he didn’t dream of having in Ethiopia. Should we be surprised, even disappointed when he doesn’t show us gratitude? After all, we rescued him. Right? He’s so lucky. Blessed.

In my ignorance, I treated him that way. “He should be thankful,” I thought. Said. Why all of this pouting? Why all of this anger? I did not know loss. Not like he did. I did not know abuse. At all. The pain I had experienced in childhood, my baggage could in no way be compared to his wound.

His father died. We have records of his death. From what we know of their culture, he would have seen everything- the death, the burial. There wasn’t a doctor, a funeral home. Nothing to make it less horrifying than it was to a little boy. I still have my dad.

He remembers his mother, who could not care for him, bringing him to an orphanage. He remembers both of them crying. He remembers watching her walk away. He was four.  I was never abandoned, but now I know what that does to a soul. Rejection has a face.

I understand now, that his wound will always be a part of him. We have watched him learn to receive love, and there are moments of amazing hope and healing. His smile lights up the room. Most of the time. In an instant, however, we watch one comment or experience tap into his deep wound and leave him stripped of all security, broken and rejected. All over again.
How do we help? We reassure him. We hold, we rock, we pray, we whisper truth in his ear. We try to be consistent and dependable. We prepare him for new situations and changes because those things stir up fear. We cheer him on as he tries a new task, goes to a new class because he still thinks “it will be too hard for me.”
Do we expect gratitude from his because we adopted him? No. Do we teach him that every good gift is from God? Yes. Then we celebrate God’s gifts.  We will celebrate him, God’s gift to our family. We will also grieve with him because that’s the other side of this adoption coin. He is with us because of loss.
Two things.
 I wanted you to understand this sweet boy so that you can love him in his loss.
I also want you to know that we believe with everything in us that there is hope and healing for the wounded. Even though some wounds will always be a part of us, those wounds do not have to bind us. We do not have to live life through that filter of pain. The hope that comes from Christ, Christ himself can bring joy despite the pain.
We can grieve and process and find healing through Jesus. We are watching it happen.

Revelation 7:17

New International Version (NIV)
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’[a]
    ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’[b]
 
Isaiah 61
 
61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.