As the first three days with our children here in Belize wound to a close yesterday, I begin to have two concerns. One was that we needed to burst the all-Americans-are-rich bubble, the illusion many of these children seemed to be expressing. Do we all have our own bedrooms (uhm, do you think I have an 11 bedroom home?). Can you buy me this, can you buy me that? Are we rich?
The other concern was discipline. Frankly, as much as the children's home prides itself on firm discipline, and certainly they do the best they can on a shoestring budget, still the kids get away with a lot. As often as not they don't even respond to various caretakers commands... and there is only so much time and energy to chase down every non-responsive kid. Most of the caregivers frankly don't even try most of the time. Lying, stealing, and forcibly taking things are common. Standard orphanage behavior for sure.
And don't get me wrong. There is a sweet spirit to most of these kids that certainly comes from the fact that the people who serve here love these children and serve them sacrificially. That does get deep into the children and there are many fruits in their actions. But survival is still survival... And kids WILL still be kids if left to their own devises.
So yesterday I suggested to the director that we meet with the kids as a group and with her to have a kind of "let's deal with reality" meeting. The director agreed and suggested we all come to her home for dinner, and that get-together happened tonight.
After a lovely homemade meal of "escabeche", a Belizean onion and chicken soup with LOTS of chili peppers in it, and a fresh green salad, we all sat around and asked each other some questions. We told them more about our home... what it is and what it ain't! That Mom buys much of our clothing from the thrift store... not the mall!
I told them they would share a bedroom and that they would have chores and responsibilities, that they would be expected to be honest, not steal, and not talk bad about others, etc. I told them we go to a huge and crazy fun water park... but only once a year! I told them we have great and fun vacations... camping, not at Disney... etc, etc.
We talked about discipline in our home and that we are two very strong parents... So don't even think about playing one parent against the other!
There was more that we shared of course and they and the director had their questions of us too. An interesting thing happened as the meeting progressed, and you have to understand this was also at the end of a pretty great day of hanging out together. The bonding and rapport just built by the hour today and all hearts were slowly getting a little taste of what love in a family is like.
So the interesting thing that happened is this... As the meeting progressed all the children started to beam more radiant and more radiant! The director was the first one to come right out and say so, and this is an ex-military career woman who has known these kids for seven years and who doesn't put a lot of stock in emotions sometimes. Anyhow the radiance on all faces was more and more evident and she said she had not seen it before. She said... It was hope! It was joy! It was peace!
So we asked the kids at the end of the bubble-bursting session... So do you still want to be adopted by us? I don't know how to explain it other than to say... the sunshine just flowed from their faces as they all peacefully and joyfully radiated... YES, YES, YES, YES, and... YES! I guess that means yes!
God is up to something remarkable! And we are so honored to be a part of it.
Thanks for your prayers... We are sustained by them!
Today was a very good day. Many adoptive parents can testify that these initial first meetings often go like this... a good day...then a challenging one...then another good day. Now, everyday the good and the challenging are all swirled together for the 12 or so consecutive hours of our awake/togetherness time. It’s just how much of the day's final balances of good vs. challenging thatday, that decides the final outcome!
But today had so much more of the good than the challenging that it must be considered a very good day. Z was back to her radiant, smiling self,(this girl can light up an entire ballroom with her smile!) She was still preferring Dad to me in a profound way, but she was sweet and helpful and loving towards us both. She sat on Dad’s knee for awhile and while it seemed new to her, she seemingly enjoyed the camaraderie that took place whenever we were together.
B, our super-dynamo girl was incredibly helpful and attentive, helping me do dishes after lunch...which meant I did the hand-washing of the dishes for about 50 people and B stood at my side rinsing and drying with a big smile on her gorgeous face. It was delightful. Absolutely, undeniably delightful, especially for this melancholic Mom. B just radiated happiness rinsing and drying dishes as long as she was beside “her Mom.” Well shake my head in awe…at the end of the day B took my face in her hands and kissed me square on the mouth several times to say goodnight. WOW!
This morning I was also invited by their wonderful, DELIGHTFUL cook, Veronicia, (Vear--roh-nee-see-ah) to observe her cooking methods and help her in various ways. Gotta say for the first time since we landed here I felt like I fit in completely. I got to cook (a little) and knead bread dough for her special rolls she makes, (she was impressed that I really did know what I was doing) and we talked recipes and ingredients and cooking methods and children and we laughed and laughed over all our stories. Unfortunately for ME only, Veronicia left today for her first holiday in over four years, so we will not see each other again this trip, but we pinky-promised (with tears) to stay in touch as she loveslovesloves our kiddoes like her own. And who, do I ask you, needs a pinky-promise to keep that vow?
|The kitchen that feeds 50 people, three times a day...|
Ok back to the day with the kiddoes…again,I have to admit, it went really well. David wants to say we turned a significant corner, relationally ...he’s an optimist. Me? I’m a die-hard skeptic so I say it was a good day... yes, it could be said even that is was a very good day. All the boys related to us as parents and boy do they love their Dad. Especially the oldest boy, R...you can see the hunger in his eyes to “be like his Dad.” For hours he sat with David and asked him questions and like a sponge he absorbed it all. The Hurricane, also known as S, came and went some, riding his bike and even finding time and place to step on a nail today(!)but when he was with us, he was like our favorite thing, all sweet, yet sweaty and boyish and charming with his GIANT grin, looking for a hug and kiss and an affirmation before he swirled off again.
And then there is the youngest, affectionetly now known because of these posting purposes as “Mr. T.” He is very much like his older brother, “The Hurricane,” but just that much younger and AH-DOOR-AH-BLE! (That’s the only way to say it when you are looking at a young boy with chocolate skin and huge brown eyes and a smile that absolutely melts your heart.) Mr. T could charm a snake if he so wanted but he could care less. He’s off from the word go ~ all boy and action and then every so often, he darts back in, shouting at the top of his lungs “MOM, DAD, MOM,DAD where are you?” And then he sees one of us, hugs us just to be sure we are real and disappears with the speed of light, off to another adventure.
So, we are very tired tonight, but very happy ...God is good, even when He's up to something REALLY scary!