It was in the midst of my honeymoon with the larger church community that our adoption went through and my wife was off to pick up our children. In that sense the timing worked out well. We were surrounded with a large group of people who were excited for us and supportive of us. To complete this package I had worked hard at restoring my broken relationship with my parents, finding some level of healing and reconciliation since leaving the cult, and so while my wife was out of country, my parents were available to help care for our other four children while I was at work.
The journey to this point with the adoption process was a bumpy and emotional one but we were now looking at the end when my wife would be returning home with our two children.
A brother and sister. He was two and she was four.
Or so we thought.
After an anxious journey and wait for them to arrive at the destination where my wife was staying the news I received from her was confusing at first. As it turned out, our son was not two but four and our daughter was not four but eight. Their paperwork was a bit mixed up as well and it appeared that they both shared the same birth-date, although the white-out made me a bit suspicious of how accurate that might be. It was the four and eight thing that was really throwing me for a loop. We had planned on adopting within the natural birth order of our family, so consequently the two children’s original ages fit well within our family birth order.
This changed things.
I now found myself a parent of a 10 year old, a 9 year old, two 8 year olds, a 6 year old, and a 4 year old. Being a bi-racial family created enough confusion for the general public set on shoving us into a box, so now seeing all of our children together and asking their ages would confuse them even more.
Over the years I have been more than surprised at how difficult a concept this has been for people to wrap their heads around. It has created awkward conversations for both my wife and I, and our children – sometimes hurtful conversations – not to mention racist. It is like a little child shopping in a grocery store with his mommy when an elderly woman walks by and she has dyed her hair blue. The little boy proceeds to shout out to his mommy, “Mommy, why is that person’s hair blue?” much to the chagrin of the mom and within earshot of the elderly woman.
I wish it was only blue hair comments.
To complete the adoption process my wife would end up having to stay in the foreign country for one month and only then was the immigration paperwork approved at the eleventh hour, allowing all three of them to get on the last available plane for the long flight back home. We were both at our wit’s end over this process and so thankful that they were now in the homestretch.
I drove down to the coast to meet them at the airport. As I waited on the sidelines anxiously I finally saw them appear in the distance. My wife, followed by my new daughter and my new son. It was a strange feeling, becoming a father again this way, and an awkward beginning, as I hugged my wife hard after not seeing her for the last month and then crouching over to hug my new children it felt strange, like having that annoying relative who always wanted to pinch your cheeks as a little child and comment on how much you have grown.
Their expressions were full of uncertainty and they were visibly exhausted having spent almost the last day bouncing from flight to flight with waits in various airports around the world in order to make this journey back home. I gathered them all up and headed to the hotel for the evening before making the trip back home the next morning. As they both laid down to sleep I stared at them for the longest time, full of emotion. My role as their father was now kick-started into high gear. I was not staring down at my newborn but at older children. I couldn’t have been there for their first steps or first words and now needed to forge a parental relationship with them while everything was still so strange and perhaps even scary for them.
Welcome to our family son and daughter. Let’s start our journey together now.