Tuesday, December 9, 2014

On This Day, Two Years Ago . . .

Two years ago today, we boarded a flight that would take us to a country that would change our family's lives forever. We were filled with a mixture of excitement and nervous anticipation, some fear (we knew a family who had just come back empty-handed), but we were praying and trusting that God, who had led us to undertake this journey in the first place, would not abandon us and would lead us to the child that would become our son or daughter, brother or sister.

One thing that stands out from this day, before we even set foot on a plane, was going through the security check. We had gone through the scan and were waiting on our bags, when the TSA agent noticed something wrong with one of our bags - Benjamin's. He has eczema and we had packed a new, unopened jar of lotion for it in his carry-on bag. The agent informed us that, since Benjamin was underage, he couldn't go through a pat-down and which one of us, my wife or I, would take his place? Now, if I had not stepped up, I wouldn't have dared to get on a flight that was about 12 hours with my wife, so I said I would. He asked if I wanted to go behind a curtained-off area, but I just wanted to get it over with, so I declined. While I was getting patted down, I jokingly asked him, "I don't get any Barry White music or mood lighting or something?" And, when it was over, and we made our way to the gate, I lamented to Danelle, "He didn't even offer to take me out to dinner or anything."

After we had gone through this ordeal, Benjamin suddenly realized that he'd left his coat in my Dad's car, since he drove us to the airport. My Dad was now on his way back to the beach where he lives. Since we were headed to Kyiv in December, Benjamin couldn't go without the winter coat we had just bought for him online.  Danelle immediately got on her cell phone, called him, and my Dad was kind enough to turn around and meet her, as there was no way that I was not going to go through security again.

Benjamin was thrilled that he was getting to fly again, get out of school for a month, and go to a foreign country, where he was, in his mind, going to meet his younger sister (as he only prayed for a sister and, when we prayed that God was lead us to the right child, boy or girl, he would pray after us, "Don't listen to them, God, I want a sister"). He loved the small screens on the back of the seats in front us that he could watch TV or a movie or play video games on. One of the movies our flight was showing was The Odd Life of Timothy Green, which is a film about adoption and the notion of having the "perfect" child (I blogged about this movie http://snapshotsfromourjourney.blogspot.com/2013/05/revisiting-odd-life-of-timothy-green.html).

There were some who had warned us not to take Benjamin. "You don't know what could happen to him over there." Our response was, "If we are going to trust God on this journey, then we are going to trust Benjamin to him." We also explained why we thought it was important that he experience a foreign country, that he saw where his brother or sister was coming from, to meet that child when we did, and to be part of the decision as it affected him just as much as it did us. This was a decision we never regretted and was critical to Cava being adopted by us, as it was Benjamin who had spoken up first and said, "He's my brother." If we had left Benjamin behind and then brought a brother home, I'm not sure how much worse it would have been when he had to share a room with him and then go through all of the difficulties of those first few months. It was also interesting to hear from others, afterwards, who contacted me to let me know they were taking their kids because of our experience.

We did not know that we would embark on one of the happiest periods of our family's lives. Spending so much time with each other and in such close quarters, we found that we drew closer together and enjoyed not only discovering Kyiv and Ukraine, but each other again. The country would change us and become a part of our hearts in ways we could not imagine. Not a day has passed since we left that this country has not been in our thoughts and prayers. One day, when Cava is older, we hope to return and show him the beauty of a country he never experienced.

There was so much about this trip that would indelibly change our lives and open them to so much more, that would draw us out of our small, insular lives to a richer, more compassionate ones. Cava would make us see our world anew and help us to understand the very grace of God more deeply. We would also watch the impact he had on people around us (family and friends), as well as those who would follow our blog and our journey.

But we did not know any of this yet.

All we know was that we were answering the call to adopt and were waiting to see what He had in store.

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