Five years ago today, very early on a Saturday morning, we drove one last time to Solnetchko detsky dom. We changed our tiny little man’s clothes and said our good-byes. And 25 minutes later, we hopped in the van with our facilitator and her husband for the drive from Mariupol to Kyiv.
That’s a long drive in and of itself. But add in a very anxious and rambunctious child who had likely never been in a car for more than 30 minutes, and you can maybe begin to imagine the “fun” we had.
I add this next photo, knowing it is extremely blurry. But it was also a good image to represent that first day: a complete blur, with some of us forcing smiles and others showing our true feelings. Beauty all around us (the sunflowers were amazing). Success in that we were now holding our newest son in our arms. And yet, what you can’t see lying behind the cameraman was one of the nastiest black clouds I have ever seen in my life. Seriously, a fitting metaphor. For the day we were maneuvering, for the night that awaited us in Kyiv, and for some of the days ahead.
We endured the drive. It was long and exhausting. We got the boys back to the apartment in Kyiv and bathed them. Surely they would sleep well after such a tiring day. Right?
|This was one of the many phases of that 9 hour
car ride: putting playing cards between your
toes & putting your feet on the window.
Nice thought anyway. William did crash quickly. Daniel did not. Everything was new and exciting and he did not want to miss a minute of it. Including running constantly, throwing things, eating anything in sight, and trying to stick his hands in the one oscillating fan we had (it was summer and it was HOT!). Zack slept with William and I took our new little man with me. I finally got him settled and he slept for probably 6 or 7 hours.
|First night as a family of four|
We made it through that first day and first night. Thanks to love. And through a long flight across the ocean with a little man breaking out in chicken pox. We made it through some rough first days and weeks. We made it through chicken pox, his first broken bone, six schools, moving to Canada, and then moving to Norway. Thanks to love.
|Gotcha Day 2011 – one year home|
Five years later. That first day still stands out vividly in my mind. Removing his clothes and giving him clothes that were just for him. Calling him by his new name. Attempting to calm him and console him as he physically rebelled against anything and everything that came his way. Watching the joy (and maybe a bit of apprehension!) of a big brother who finally had his little buddy with him.
|Gotcha Day 2012 – two years home|
God was good to us when he allowed us to bring each of our boys into our family. He was good to us when he walked us through every difficult step of their adoptions. He was good to us when things just seemed to fall into place. He was good to us when things seemed impossible. He was good to us in the good and the tough times. And He continues to be good to us, in all things. *Good does not mean easy. But knowing that He is with us and that we are never alone: that is a very good place to be.*
|Gotcha Day 2013 – three years home|
If you ever watch an adoption story unfold, you will see that it is really a redemption story. I don’t say this as a way to pat ourselves on the back, but simply as truth. Watching hope come into someone’s life is a beautiful thing. We saw it with our boys. We’ve seen it with the children of many friends who have adopted. Watching what love can do is exciting. And watching what love can endure is encouraging.
|Gotcha Day 2014 – four years home|
I’m thankful for the way that God built our family. It may not be traditional. And at times it is far from pretty. But it is always beautiful. Because it’s about love. And despite the obstacles and the difficulties, love wins.
Happy Gotcha Day to our loving, joyful, energetic Daniel!
|One of my all-time favorite photos of Daniel, from 2011|