It's our second day in-country, and I bet you thought this post was going to be all about Natalie and the Transition Home.
Well, we have a big announcement to make. Like, I bet I hear your jaw hit the floor while you stare open-mouthed at this page.
We are trying to adopt again.
Meet Micah. <3
Back in 2011, I found two deaf boys. One had a sister. Long story short, in the process of pursuing them, we were forced to stop the paperwork for one of them.
I'm guessing you can figure out who we had to leave.
When we went for Levi and Z's embassy trip in October of 2012, we went visiting orphanages and bringing donations. We didn't know where Micah was at that point. But at the third orphanage, the director came out and saw that we were signing with Levi. The director told me, "We have a deaf boy," and brought him out to me.
He came out, disheveled and clearly terrified and not understanding why he had to come outside. He was tall, thin as a tail, with dirty teeth and he was crying. He wouldn't look at anyone; he just stood in a corner on the wall and cried.
I fell completely in love with him.
We never completed our tour; we spent the next hour trying to play with him. Trying to coax out a smile, trying to get his pain-filled eyes to light up for even a second. He finally started making eye contact with us and by the end we were throwing a small ball. He cracked a few grimaces that looked like something only a person who has forgotten how to smile can possibly make. Then finally, we caught a few smiles, so infinitesimal that if you blinked, you would only see his empty face, tears still slipping down his dirty cheeks.
I asked about his language....zero. No education, no language. Story of my childrens' lives. He was ten. The director asked me to take him, but it was impossible at the time. He had no paperwork. We had no paperwork for him. We were just finishing the process with our first kids and had yet to prove ourselves as parents. So we left him, and with him, our hearts. Abe and I made a pact that day, standing in a court yard, with this little boy; that we WOULD come back for him. Period. We would not leave him.
I sobbed the whole day.
Fast forward to last August (2013). God called us to Natalie at 4am on Sunday, Aug 18th. And as we were making the decision to accept her referral, Abe said to me, "I want Micah." I looked right back at him and said, "Okay." We fought through Natalie's paperwork.
In February, 2014, when I went to visit Natalie, I also tried to go and see Micah. It's complicated and I can't go into detail but I was unable to see him.
Fast forward to March. Abe and I were on our way home from a band show and I started asking, "Why don't we just try and start his paperwork now? We will be at court for Natalie soon, and we know the paperwork takes forever. Let's just start it." Abe replied, "I told you I wanted him," and I called our agency that same day and left a message. On March 18th, 2014, we officially started the process of trying to get him paper ready for adoption.
June 2014. I had emailed the American staff and let them know that on this trip, we had three priorities, and one of them was seeing Micah. They had told me that we could go to the orphanage and visit him. When we landed in Addis and received our itinerary, we were displeased (I'd rather use a much stronger word) to see that visiting that orphanage was not even on the schedule. After some rearranging, we were told this morning that we could go around 4:30pm.
We were SO excited. We have prayed for him every day for two years and our kids call him their brother, even though they don't remember his face. We didn't have a picture or anything at all, just the memory of him and his name. To be able to see him again, to be able to give him a care package.....there are no words for that.
We were in the middle of our tour when they told us he was there. I was kneeling on a floor, between two children in a dark room. Both were special needs and both were breaking my heart. They told me to turn around, and there he was.
He was tiny (he doesn't look like he has grown) and he still had that wild animal-fear in his eyes. But he wasn't crying. They gave him a push towards me, and I reached out one hand.....not wanting to frighten him, and not being able to keep my hand at my side either. He came partway to me and I gave him a half side-hug. We went outside and he climbed straight into the van. I climbed in next to him and sat on the far side of the seat, trying to make him feel safe. Abe and the kids sat around us. Micah turned away and stared out the window at the wall.
Please God, WHY? Why does this happen?????? This tiny, beautiful boy, so precious in Your sight.....why is he here, hopeless and alone, with NOTHING? God, where ARE You???
I reached for the backpack I had brought that was stuffed to the seams with gifts for him. Jeans and a sweatshirt. Paper, a pen, stickers. A jump rope and bubbles. Playdough. Bracelets (para-cord and silicone). Soap, a toothbrush, gum, tissues. A soccer ball. A photo album filled with our pictures.
Gently, I touched his shoulder. No response. I touched him again. Nothing. Dear God, the walls this child has. Pain and fear so thick that it threatened to choke out everything around him.
I tapped his shoulder twice, and slowly, slowly, like he was fighting every inch, he turned and looked at me. I showed him the bag, handed it to him, motioned for him to open it. He took it dutifully, a child trained to follow gestures, and placed it beside him. Then he turned back to the wall.
I tapped him again, my heart pleading for him to turn around. Opening the bag, I took out some gum. Gum is like gold in the Ethiopian orphanages. Handing him the pack of Juicy Fruit, I kept digging in the bag.
The director was standing close by and I started asking questions. Most of the answers were as I had remembered. The director did say that Micah is going to a deaf school, but that he didn't participate and didn't try to sign. He preferred to be alone. He likes to work with his hands. He likes to fix things.
Kinesthetic learner? I grabbed the pipe cleaners from his bag and tapped him. Bending the cleaner into a flower, I handed it to him. He raised his eyes to meet mine. And I saw a flash of interest. Curiosity. LIFE. I grabbed the pack and handed him one. He took it and started twisting. I grabbed an orange one and made it into a heart. He looked at it and handed me his, while indexing his head, once. He had made a crown. I took it and put it on my head. And I saw his first real smile, small, timid, and oh so brief, flash across his beautiful face. I grabbed the orange heart and stuck it over my heart. Then I took it and placed it on his heart. I handed him a yellow cleaner and he copied the heart shape.
I could take a million pages and recount every detail but I won't. But he put his stickers on the paper and then drew smoke coming from the engines. He wrote "Wrigley's" (from his gum wrapper) and he drew stars. Zahria made him smile several times by being silly with her pipe cleaners and Playdough. Levi gave him his own special bracelet and kept encouraging him, and Micah showed his very first sign. "Thank you." Levi's grin was epic. And we started getting big smiles from Micah, ones that started tiny and slowly spread across his face till his whole persona changed. Abe was so gentle with him, and so kind, and all I could think was, "These kids could not have a more perfect father." I took Micah's paper and wrote "I love you," on it. Then I signed it in ASL. He copied it back to me. And my heart burst.
When they told us we had to leave, I started crying. Because my heart was being torn from my chest and I couldn't breathe. I motioned to the pipe cleaner heart and crown that he had made. He nodded and I held them onto them like they were a lifeline. I felt like I was dying. We climbed out of the van and he handed me back his things. I shoved them into the backpack and quickly held it out to him. He let me out it on him. He started to walk away and I tapped him. He turned and I signed "I love you," in Amharic. He signed it back, gave me a small smile. A smile of hope. A smile that said, "I know you care about me." And I LOST IT. Driving away from that orphanage almost killed me and I literally cried myself out of tears for the next hour.
Micah Jackson, I love you with all my heart. With everything that is in it. I will not leave you.
Oh, you were wondering about the Transition Home and Natalie? :)
The TH was great; we played tons of card games and took pictures and Nat and Z are best buds. In fact, I could barely separate them when it was time for us to leave for lunch. They both had a mini fit. Levi and Nat signed like crazy people and just seeing them TOGETHER, was so cool. Natalie had the BIGGEST smiles all day, so huge I thought her face would split.
I visited my little boy that I wrote about last time. Abe came with me. And we held this boy for as long as we could, swinging him and tickling him, hugging him and telling him he is loved. This child is SO beautiful. And he was SO happy to have us playing with him. I almost cried when Abe picked him up and kissed his cheek and swung him around. The nannies asked me to take him......if only.....
Tomorrow is court, and Natalie should officially become a Ruper. But more importantly, I will be able to post pictures of her FACE!!!! Please pray that we pass. :)
We love you. Thank you for being our friends. :) Hugs to you ALL!!!! <3