From the Plane - November 29th, 2018
January 2019 makes 10 years since Abel came into our family.
I'm holding the Styrofoam cup full of warm coffee in my hand looking down into the small opening in the lid where I just put the creamer packet. I asked the flight attendant for two sugars but he heard two creamers I presume since that is what he brought me. I didn’t protest. I poured one packet in the opening, stirred it and took a sip. Pretty good. No sugar needed. I always enjoy airplane coffee, not sure why but today is no exception.
Abel is next to me as I type, he’s listening to music with my headphones. His hand covering his face, I think the reading light I've turned on overhead is keeping him from napping.
In this moment I flash to the small boy, I see him, six years old, a skinny stranger to us just as we were strangers to him. He was squatting, him and Dean playing with a Matchbox car, rolling it back and forth on the ceramic tile porch floor of the guest house we were staying at in Addis Ababu Ethiopa the day we met him. How did he squat like that? He would squat for hours. I was very impressed with the squatting. I could never squat.
I remember so clearly knowing he was my son from the moment I saw his name on the Rainbow Kids website even before I ever saw his face.
I cringe when people say we saved him or he should be grateful we adopted him. He had a mother who died, a grandmother who gave him up to save him from more abuse. He suffered tremendous loss. He should be allowed to grieve, that's what he "should". I wanted more children that I couldn’t have biologically. So we all saved each other, Dean, Steele, Evangeline, all of us. And Steele and Abel both suffered loss that should not be brushed off or disregarded. Loss is a part of adoption, it is both beautiful and sad. To treat it as anything less than complex and unique for each person is tragic.
Families formed strictly from birthing their children have a cleaner line to draw when the life of a child doesn’t make sense but you know what? Jails are full of biological kids who couldn’t overcome their demons, kids who had great parents. We are not "just" this or "just" that, none of us.
It’s his hand on his face that makes me see little Abel. Isn't it weird how looking at your children's hands can take you back to when they were infants? Their hands, soft cheeks and their puffy eyes when they are sleeping, always take me back and right now I want to hug him or pat his knee in that way that tells him it’s going to be OK, tells me that it’s going to be OK. I hold back my tears. I stop myself from touching him instead I start typing this. He doesn’t like to be touched unless he initiates it or gives permission. I don’t want to do anything to startle, to cause things to unravel the fragile threads sewing it all back together.
We are on our way home from California, therapy for all of us will continue and God willing, please Jesus, let us never be on a plane back from residential treatment again.
The road before us is long, I can't breath sometime with dread of what may be ahead of us. God I want to breath again. This mountain we are climbing, winding up, white knuckles on the steering wheel most of the time, trying to keep us all from going over the cliff, is massive and long. Right now I can hardly see the road for the smoke, the rain and the darkness but we are in this together and grace comes in brief sightings of hope and remembrance and big, little Abel’s hand on his face if only for a second. It took my breath and made my heart... it just made my heart. This IS the life of our family.