For any of you wondering if all that crying, begging, hoping, and praying Daniel home in time for Christmas was worth it . . . absolutely!!! We have had the sweetest Christmas with our new son. I'm still in such awe of God's precious gift that arrived home on Christmas Eve. My heart overflows with joy.
Forgive me for not posting for the past few days. I've wanted so badly to share every fabulous minute but was so busy getting everything ready for Christmas and for Daniel to come home. Living in Guatemala for half of December, then trying to catch up on life without Brad here made life challenging. But never have I been so grateful to be so exhausted.
I spent Tuesday and Wednesday just giddy with excitement that Daniel would soon be home. I was wrapping his gifts and as I wrote on the tags "To Daniel, From Mom and Dad" . . . the beauty of those simple words moved me to tears. For the first time in his life, he would spend Christmas with a mom and dad, sisters and brother. He would have packages under a tree with his name on it. He would celebrate the birth of our Lord as part of a family.
Thursday was a flurry of running around. I knew in my mind that Daniel and Brad would soon be home, yet I don't think I really believed it would happen till I saw them at the airport with my own eyes.
Brad said Daniel was great on the trip home.
Daniel is afraid of heights and had never been on a plane so I was worried that this would be overwhelming for him, but other than some nerves at take-off he handled it all so well. The pilot even let Daniel visit the cockpit. (This pic was taken AFTER they had landed.)
We waited anxiously for his arrival. His new siblings had waited for this day for two and a half years!
We had a bunch of sweet family and friends who gave up their Christmas Eve plans to welcome him home.
When Daniel and Brad rounded the corner to where we were waiting, Daniel's face was beaming. Perhaps the closest thing we will ever witness to a heavenly homecoming, when we are greeted by those who have gone before us, is when we witness the homecoming of an adopted child. It is a victorious sight to behold.
I was able to keep my emotions together. I don't think Daniel understands the difference between happy and sad tears (although he's seen his mama and papa do both), so I managed to just greet him with open arms and a smile that matched his. Here he is with his sisters . . .
and some of our extended family.
I could write for days about our Christmas together. I don't even know where to begin. We left the airport and went to a family gathering on Christmas Eve with Brad's extended family. Daniel entered a home full of folks who had been praying him home. Some precious cousins were waiting outside in the rain as our car pulled up in the driveway. You could hear the squeals from the street as he entered the door.
Then we finally made it to our home and were greeted by balloons and a huge card from our neighbors. Inside the card had photos of each family living on our cul-de-sac with their names. This boy certainly knows he is loved by many.
When he stepped into our home, his face was so precious taking it all in. He ran to our Christmas tree and saw the wrapped presents. He exclaimed, "Look, look, there are presents here for me!!!"
He ran room to room exploring the house. When he got to his room, it was like an episode of "Extreme Home Makeover" (without Ty Pennington and the elaborate decor). He squealed and jumped up and down. He loved having his own chest of drawers to put his clothes in and a little Christmas tree that I set up for the boys. He's so excited to share a bunk bed with Brady. (And Brady is over the moon to have the big brother he has waited so long for.) There's a lot of giggling coming from that room at night.
Christmas morning was truly special. This pic is the kids sitting at the top of the stairs waiting to come down.
Here are two very cute (and very short) clone troopers. I think they look like bobble heads.
I had envisioned this moment for so many months but it was better than I had ever imagined. Here's a child who has had nine years of so little who suddenly has a family who loves him, who is laughing at the breakfast table savoring each bite of a cinnamon roll and each minute of belonging, who finally understands that he will never go hungry or lack for anything he needs or ache for a family.
And, oh, the love I have for my other three children who have never once complained about the adoption. How beautiful the sight of them loving on their new brother, helping him with a toy, and saying such sweet things to make sure he feels like he's part of the family. These are the greatest gifts that we got this Christmas.
We've unfortunately broken every recommendation given in adoption books on easing your newly adopted child into your family. There has been no routine, we've gone from family gathering to family gathering (a total of 5 in 3 days!)and had many people come over. Yet in spite of the craziness, he has done remarkably well. I keep waiting for him or one of the other kids to come unglued, but we've not had one moment of tears or pouting from anyone (including me!). We told Daniel to let us know if he ever got overwhelmed at the gatherings and we could leave early and he did so well that I often forgot he had only been home one day.
I feel so badly that you all have prayed him home, then once my package safely arrived, I haven't had time to post a pic of us enjoying the gift. But my husband and family needed a few days with the computer off, to watch my new son ride his bike on the driveway, to build Lego creations together, to go to the movies (we saw "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" tonight), to drive around looking at Christmas lights, and to spend every moment rejoicing in finally being together. But I promise in the coming year that any person who takes the time to visit here will see regular reports from the Goodness and Mercy mama.
I'll share one more story before heading to bed(I hope I'm still making sense because I haven't gotten much sleep the past few days). Last night after tucking all four into bed, I sat down at the computer with the plan to update my blog. A few minutes later Ava came downstairs crying. I thought "Oh, no. This day was too good to be true." My mind raced wondering the cause of her distress. Perhaps she felt Daniel was the center of attention and felt left out, perhaps Daniel had said or done something that hurt her feelings, perhaps she was disappointed that there was something she didn't get for Christmas.
The words began to spill out between sobs. "Mom, I had my radio on and just heard the song 'All I Really Want for Christmas.'" (It's the sweet song by Steven Curtis Chapman about an orphan wanting a family.) She continued, "Mom, it reminds me so much of Daniel. All he wanted was a family for Christmas and it has been so special being that family."
I told her that I thought of Daniel every time I heard that song, too, but then asked why she was crying. She replied, "Because it's not enough. There are so many just like Daniel who need homes. There are kids like Viviana and Eluvia [the little girls we sponsor from Daniel's orphanage but aren't able to be adopted] who spent another Christmas without a family. It isn't fair. We need to buy more bunkbeds and adopt more kids. We can do more, Mom."
Her words meant so much to me. What a blessing to have our children passionately share this calling with us. Here I had been so concerned about "messing up" the perfect world that my other three had been living in, only to realize that it's okay for them to have their hearts broken over the things that break God's heart. I have a funny feeling that some day we'll be buying more bunkbeds.
I'm posting that song here for anyone who hasn't heard it.(Be sure to pause the music playing below so you can hear it.)
I hope any of you who are thinking about adoption but are hesitant to take that leap of faith will see our happy ending and joyful beginning and consider adopting, too. This time next year, you could have the same gift of life sitting under your tree. And although I'm sure there will be challenging days ahead, the moments we have right now are like no other.
Thanks again for your love and prayers getting Daniel home. There's nothing greater than the gift of a new son as we celebrate the gift of His Son. We hope you had a Merry Christmas. May you have a blessed New Year.