This is the longest I've ever gone without posting. (So sorry!) Part of it is due to my trying to get this adoption scavenger hunt of documents completed as soon as possible. The other part is due to some major changes in how we are schooling our boys.
To explain this I must give a bit of background. Our girls (in the 8th and 5th grade this year), attend a wonderful classical Christian school. We had seriously considered homeschooling them when they were younger, but at the time my mother was battling cancer and we were trying to heal from the loss of our first son. (That story is here.) I was barely putting one foot in front of the other and knew I wouldn't be able to give them the education they needed. And so we found this fabulous school and they have now been there 5 years.
But my plan all along was to homeschool Daniel and Brady in the early grades. I have missed so much of Daniel's childhood that I didn't want to give up another minute. Keeping the boys at home last year was exactly what Daniel (and Brady) needed. I loved every minute snuggled up with my boys reading books, going exploring outside, getting to know my new son, and watching a precious bond form between two new brothers. And when Daniel first came home, even basic things like riding in a car were hard for him. There's no way he could have handled going to school last year.
But as winter turned into spring, Daniel began to thaw and bloom himself. In January we'd open his school books and he would cry that he couldn't do the work, but by March he couldn't wait to see how many pages he could do in a day.
And then we would pick up his sisters every afternoon from a building where the kids were laughing, teachers were hugging them good-bye and friends were waving farewells. The boys attended their poetry recitals, watched their sisters make science projects, attended music programs, and laughed at us dressed in our costumes for Arts Festival Day. (Parent helpers dress up, too.) All the while, Daniel was a spectator . . . many times I could tell he longed to be part it.
A few times Daniel asked, "Will I go to school here some day?" I'd answer, "If you want to." I wondered how long it would take him to catch up to where he could attend. I was a little sad though, because the most fun years at this school are in kindergarten and first and second grades. It's a unique school in many ways. In the younger grades the children only attend till noon and in first and second grades, Fridays are completely taught by the parents. (The parents divvy up a variety of topics and create and teach their own lesson plans each Friday.) I assumed that by the time Daniel was able to attend the school, he would have missed the opportunity to have half days and have Mom and Dad teach in his classroom.
But Daniel was doing so well with our homeschool curriculum that I thought he might be ready for second grade at this school. We had him tested and I couldn't believe the results. When the admissions director called to say they would love for him to attend the next year, I wept. I was just amazed that this little boy, who less than a year ago lived in an orphanage, was going to be able to attend such a wonderful school.
He was giddy with excitement this summer when we bought him his uniforms, backpack, and school supplies. But as the date approached for the first day of school, I could see that he was getting nervous.
But on Monday, August 16, I got to witness a first that I will never forget.
You see, as the adoptive parents of an 8 year old boy, we've grieved a lot of "firsts" that we've missed. First smile, first steps, first birthday . . . eight years of baby pictures and memories. But in exchange, we've been given the privilege of firsts that few parents will ever have the blessing to experience.
Like spending Christmas with a child who has never had a family--who is so overcome with emotion at the sight of the Christmas tree and begins to weep saying, "There are gifts with my name on them!" Like having a child, who has known profound hunger, sit at your dinner table-- laughing with his siblings and eating till he is full. Like watching a child, who spent years in an orphanage, now throwing a ball with his dad or dancing in the waves of the ocean. Like celebrating his first birthday with our family and when he blows out the candle on his cake and his sister asks what he wished for, his response is: "I have everything I've ever wanted. There's nothing left to wish for."
Last week we witnessed a first that even fewer parents will ever experience.
We watched our little boy proudly march into an amazing school in a uniform that announced that he was no longer an orphan without hope, but a boy with a future.
(This is Daniel leading the pack down the hallway--no longer a guest . . . but a student!)
(One last hug and "I'm proud of you, buddy" from Dad.)
We took his photo with his precious teacher and saw his fellow classmates greet him. When we left the classroom, he had a smile on his face that said, "I belong here."
(I don't like to post pics of others without permission, so I just cropped in on the most grateful little guy at that school.)
When I picked him up at noon, he was still smiling--yet about to pop wanting to share about his day. He and his little brother compared stories about the fun they had (Brady is in kindergarten in the same building) and when his two older sisters got home, Daniel couldn't wait to tell them about his day, too. The girls didn't even want to share about their day till they had gotten full reports from their little brothers. It is so sweet that now all four of our children will have memories of being in school together.
Daniel has loved his first two weeks at school, each day he announces that it was better than the day before. But I'll never forget that very first day. I somehow held in the tears of watching my two little guys go to school for the first time. But on the drive home the floodgates finally opened. It was prompted by Daniel's voice from the backseat reciting the school's motto. I have heard it many times over the years, but for some reason hearing it recited by my treasure with a Spanish accent gave it new meaning.
He said, "Mama. Hear this! I am a child of God. I ought to do His will. I can do what He tells me. By His grace alone I will."
Praising God for His abundant grace for my special boy.
More Than Lots,