It’s been a while since I’ve written an update about our adoption. The actual process of adoption is complete but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing interesting going on. I’d like to say something about adopting an older child. Once upon a time I was scared to death at the thought of adopting an older child. When we went to adopt Gus we spent several days visiting with him at his orphanage on our first trip to Ethiopia. Gus was just a baby but there were tons of older kids running around ranging in age from 3 to the early teens. They loved practicing their English and playing pretty much anything.
One day as we were leaving the orphanage after a visit with Gus a little girl was leaving for the last time with her new mom. On our way back to the guesthouse we all stopped for lunch. It was very interesting and fun to watch her experience the outside world. The kicker was watching her eat ice cream for the first time. After that I said to Erika, “We’re totally doing this.”
I can’t adequately explain you the joys of adopting an older child. These first few weeks together have been precious. This little boy needed a mom and dad so bad. When we picked him up on that first day he sat close to me silently with big tears running down his face. In our first few days together he didn’t know that when you get hurt you can cry to your mom and dad and they’ll try to help make it better. On the one hand he’s strong and self-sufficient and on the other he’ll lay in my arms and look up into my eyes like he’s a newborn trying to figure me out.
This is not always easy. The language barrier has been tough. We’re still learning how to care for his special needs. He’s really particular about where his things go. And, shocker, he’s everything you would expect a 5 year old boy to be in terms of naughtiness. He needed a mom and dad…real bad. And there are tons more just like him. I saw them. We visited his orphanage and he marched around like he owned the place showing us where he slept and where he played. There was room after room filled with children with various special needs, sentenced to an institution because they weren’t born perfectly healthy. As he took us around he told everyone we were Mom and Dad. He was happy be there to show us around but he was clear that he wasn’t staying.
It took us a couple of days but we did take him for ice cream. Ice cream parlors aren’t all over the place in China so we had to settle for McDonald’s. I’m not positive it was his first but he loved it so much his eyes rolled back in his head after each bite. On the way home he tripped and hurt his knee. He cried, Erika picked him up and kissed it and we went back to the hotel and cleaned him up. Ice cream and kisses for skinned knees may seem pretty normal to you but for Archie it’s all still brand new 6 weeks later.