Friday, April 3, 2015

Can't Smile Without You

We crossed the ocean for a little girl, dreaming of braids, bows and a tiny hand to hold. Our whole family cherished the idea of a sweet little girl to love.

For the first time in 20 years of parenthood, we paid attention in the girl toy aisle. We shunted poor Elijah to the basement so that we could transform his upstairs boy room into a girl room, all bright colors and butterflies. We dreamed big dreams and prayed big prayers.

When the time came, we stuffed our bags with princess toys and crossed the ocean, focused on our little girl.

Deep in our hearts, though, we knew that our dream might not come true. So we remained cautious. Instead of painting our girl room pink, we painted it bright green-- something that would go fine with either gender. The butterflies on the walls are appliques, easily removed. We bought not a stitch of girl clothing, although a friend who works at a clothing store bought us some because she simply couldn't resist.

As single-minded as we were about adopting a little girl, we always remembered that nothing about adoption is ever certain until it's done. As our facilitator reminded us the other day, "Man proposes, but God disposes."

After what happened on Monday, we thought that perhaps we'd been too single-minded in our pursuit of a girl. So we opened our minds to other possibilities.

Overwhelmed by the number of options before us, we decided to go back to what we know: boys who have strong minds, yet have been confined to institutions because of physical weaknesses.

And boy, did we hit the jackpot. We crossed the ocean for a little girl, but found instead the most precious little boy imaginable.





Ian (don't get too comfortable with the name, as it's going to change soon).

Ian has been waiting all his life for someone to call him "son." He has cherished the idea of having a family, holding it up as the highest goal of his young life. Our facilitator tells us that he pestered her every time she visited his orphanage, begging to know if she'd found a family for him yet.

The story of his early life is astonishingly similar to Aaron's. The two were born within four weeks of one another.  Both were originally named Ivan, familiarized as Vanya. Both were diagnosed with arthrogryposis, although Ian's diagnosis might be mistaken. Because of these diagnoses, both were abandoned at birth. Both were raised in baby houses until age 5, when they were transferred to long-term institutions.

After that, their stories diverge. One went to a rural level 4 mental institution, where he did nothing but sit in a shed for a year. You know the rest of Aaron's story.

The other...

Ian went to a completely different institution, an urban one with a director who lives to fight for her children. Finding that Ian couldn't walk, she somehow scratched together funds to send him to Italy for surgery-- not once, but twice. Thanks to those surgeries, Ian now walks, although his gait is still painfully poor. This same director provided physical therapy, schooling, music, dance and even swimming. Along the way, she taught Ian to be kind, caring and polite, instilling in him the tenderest of hearts.

Knowing how Ian would thrive in a family, Ian's director strove to place him with his birth mother. Somehow, she convinced his mother to take him in one summer, hoping she would fall in love with his sweet nature. At the end of that summer, though, his mother sent him back to the institution.

We were sitting in the orphanage waiting area learning all of this when we saw Ian for the first time. The director, social worker and a nurse were all sharing Ian's story through our facilitator/translator, shedding a few tears as they spoke.

No one called Ian into the room. According to Ian, he only happened to come upstairs because he couldn't find his teacher. Maybe so, maybe not! At any rate, all of the adults invited him in and told him who we were.

The look of wonder on his face was simply unforgettable. With just a hint of shyness, he came right in and sat down between Rob and me. Minutes later, he was already leaning into us as if we'd known him for years. Hardly an hour passed before we told our facilitator that yes, we absolutely want him.

The rest is a story for another day. For now, we are thrilled to report that our adoption is on track, and we don't anticipate any more problems beyond the unavoidable ones, i.e. paperwork and bureaucracy. Thanks to the support of so many of you, we expect to bring home a very happy little boy!



52 comments:

  1. I'm sitting here with happy tears on this good friday reading your story. Ian was one of those boys I saw on RR and wished circumstances were different. I can't think of a more amazing family. praying for you all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. GOOSEBUMPS! God bless this journey and the beauty that is rising from the ashes of broken dreams.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my goodness Julia! PRAISE GOD!!! (you know how I LOVE boys :o)
    He is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!! His orphanage is absolutely amazing. Surgery? In Italy/?TWO times! God Bless that precious Director! Oh my goodness I wept uncontrollably reading this. We are so FILLED WITH JOY! For all of you!!! God is SO GOOD! What a beautiful beautiful story.
    We are singing PRAISES to God!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my! I have tears in my eyes reading this! I am so excited for you and your new son! God is GOOD!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ian is darling. Love the back story. This is precious news.

    ReplyDelete
  6. precious little boy with a lovely smile !
    Great news !

    ReplyDelete
  7. God is so good! Congratulations on your precious new son!

    ReplyDelete
  8. we are all happy for you!!! juno is excited for her friend! havent had a chance to show jack hes outside being a boy as your boy will soon enjoy!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh MAZAL TOV! CONGRATULATIONS! He will fit in your family just great!

    Sarah

    ReplyDelete
  10. oh, what a treasure he is! you all are one blessed and beautiful family! <3

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am so happy that I checked here again just now! I had written this morning, hoping things were positive with you. And what a beautiful post to find here! Praise God for this child who is to be your son! :) He is beautiful and motivated to have a family. He looks like my cousin's one son, Brian. :) I am delighted for you, and for Ian. This is meant to be. Just plain God's plan. I'm laughing and weeping with joy for you. samm

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh Julia, I'm a weepy mess. Congratulations on your new son. I'm so thankful for God's faithfulness to you, and to Ian. I absolutely love you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Happy tears and continued prayers!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Another boy with a beautiful smile! I know your journey was round-a-bout but you ended up exactly where you were supposed to be. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, wow, wow! The Lord is so good! I have been checking in frequently to see if there is an update but never expected to see the handsome face of a little boy! Congratulations to your entire family! I have been praying that the Lord would place in your hearts a child who has been desperately wanting and waiting for a family. Prayers answered! The look on your faces say it all. How amazing! Praying for a smooth process, safety, health, comfort and joy. Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey.

    Becky

    ReplyDelete
  16. Picturing him leaning into you... I started crying here, at my desk. He's wanted nothing but a mother and a father his whole life and now he finally has it! Praise the Lord!
    When I was pregnant with my children, I knew... just KNEW... that he was a boy and she was a girl. I immediately went out and bought boy or girl-specific clothing at six or eight weeks pregnant. I know the Lord was whispering this wonderful secret into my heart. I know that is the case here. That's why you were cautious. There was a wonderful little secret being whispered into your soul.
    Harper will become a daughter someday, her heart is being prepared.
    Ian is a son now!
    God is good.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Looks like you'll have "twins" soon. So happy for you! <3

    ReplyDelete
  18. Crying tears of joy for all of you. The pictures are truly magical. I bet Elizabeth is jumping for joy in heaven right now.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The joys of boys! "Ian" even looks like a Nalle, just as does Aaron.

    So happy for all of you - and God bless that marvelous director. What a wonderful woman she is.

    I hope the remainder of your journey goes well and easily, with lots of traveling blessings along the way. Of course, the greatest of those new blessings will soon be yours...

    Very best wishes from
    Susan in Kentucky
    Cousin to 2 from U.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Prayers for you as you begin your new life together as a family!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wonderful! So glad to hear great news!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Rachel HagemeyerApril 3, 2015 at 6:58 PM

    I am crying tears of joy for you all!! he is so beautiful and he looks like aaron's brother =D

    ReplyDelete
  23. Happy tears for you all !

    ReplyDelete
  24. So happy for Ian and your family. Such a beautiful smile he has!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have read this post three times and I am amazed how God has orchestrated you finding another son. What a wonderful God who knows what we need is not necessarily what we seek for ourselves. He is adorable. Congratulations.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Such wonderful news! He just looks like he belongs with you. He is looking into the camera with such confidence and joy. I love the picture of Rob and your two boys.
    We are on the road to adoption again and like you, I have this mental image of a girl with bows and frills, but God seems to be repeatedly putting little boys in my path, so I think it will be another round of dump trucks and baseballs!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I started to cry at the very first picture. Talk about a perfect fit. Congratulations on your beautiful boy.

    ReplyDelete
  28. What a lucky little boy! I am so happy for all of you!

    ReplyDelete
  29. To look at a family picture with all 4 kids...you probably wouldn't be able to tell which came from half way around the world. Sending love and prayers!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Big happy grins over here! :) You were made for each other!!! I have no proper words for how great the director is. I am so sorry for your sorrow over losing Harper, but I know that the Lord has this!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Although now I have no one to buy a smocked dress for, I don't think Vanya would appreciate that much (sigh). Let's see... Benjamin, Elijah, Aaron, and... Jacob? Josiah? Jonah? I'm feeling a J name coming on. Just kidding, but I can't wait to find out the name!

    ReplyDelete
  32. The leaning in... tears. Such joy. Congratulations to you all, and continued prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  33. What wonderful news! Sending prayers for an uneventful completion of this adoption, and a safe trip home! :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Wonderful news! We are so happy for you!!
    Zsofia and Norbert

    ReplyDelete
  35. I am sooo glad that I pulled up your blog just now, anxious for an update. I am sitting here at work, on the maternity ward, just weeping tears of joy for your family! Oh how I have prayed for and cried over the loss of poor Harper (both your loss and hers-she has no way of knowing what her decision means). And yet, God has shown that He is in control and has a plan. How could this boy and your family finding eachother not have been orchestrated by the One above? His birthday so close to Aaron's, same name, same diagnoses (?)... what are the odds? Nothing to the One that knows! And he looks just like he was born to be a Nalle! Such sweetness! And to find that he's been provided for so carefully all these years is so amazing. I'm overwhelmed. Italy? Twice!? What a wonderful director he must have! He must think he's dreaming- that he's been so anxiously awaiting his turn for a family, and THERE YOU ARE! I'm so over the moon excited for your family!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I'm praising God for His perfect plan for your family. And, that director?! I just want to stand up and cheer for her. What a difference she has made.

    ReplyDelete
  37. So happy for Ian and all of the family. Ian's long wait is finally over. And Ian will have brothers too. How awesome! Thanks for sharing the news.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thank you , Father, for answering Ian's many prayers. How you must love this precious son to give him this wonderful family. And what a surprise for another precious son Aaron, to give him such a special brother. Your ways, as always, are so beyond our imaginings. Thank you for the beauty out of ashes once again.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Ian seems to fit right in - he is such a handsome boy. Oh the unspeakable joy! God's script is indeed marvelous. Kudos to the director who was Ian's advocate. To God be the glory! PS: Does Ian's orphanage need financial help to enable the director to advocate for more orphans in need of specialized surgery? I will be happy to donate.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Congratulations! We went into this thinking girl, girl, girl and we are also now adopting a boy.. (still a ways to go of course). How exciting!

    ReplyDelete
  41. WOW! I am just in awe of how God has brought Ian and your family together. And the pictures are precious! I see such peace and hope in Ian's eyes: "I have a family!" And to think that Aaron will now have a brother and a buddy his age, from similar circumstances and with a similar diagnosis...just amazing. I cannot imagine a more perfect family for him, and what a blessing he will be to all of you. He will just thrive in your love and care. Though I am only a reader here, I am THRILLED for Ian and for all of you...you must be completely over the moon! May God continue to keep you all well and your process going smoothly. (Please excuse if you get this double, first time didn't go through and I have had to retype).

    ReplyDelete
  42. He's wonderful and perfect and I am so happy for your entire family! :D!

    ReplyDelete
  43. He is darling! How old is he now? I am so happy for him (and you). I hope Aaron is excited; it looks as if he is.
    God bless,
    Jenny

    ReplyDelete
  44. So, so excited for you!!!!!!!! Congratulations!!

    ReplyDelete
  45. And can I get an AMEN???!!! AMEN!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  46. He has the most adorable expression....sweet and lucky boy.

    ReplyDelete

Loving words from kind people make our hearts glad!