There have been times in the past ten years when I have thought to myself (especially early on in our adoptive experience), "I could do this again." And, as the record will show, Claudia and I have done this again ... ten times again, to be precise. There are many reasons. The explanationn from a social justice standpoint is simply that there are children in the world who need parents who can love them and give them a chance. The common sense take on it is that since we already are experienced in adopting older children, and are learning (always learning, I might add) how to work with their challenges and anxieties, why be done? The chronological issue is straightfoward, too: while we are not young (in our early, soon-to-be-middle, forties) anymore, we are not yet making an appointment to be equipped with dual wheelchairs. The practical matter is that we are able to do this, in spite of the emotional and financial challenges it might bring our way, this is really a much more satisfying way to invest our time and money than in a new recreational vehicle of some kind or in a piece of property that we might visit eight times in the course of a year.
Now that does not mean that there are not times I hear another voice beckoning me. "You've done more than enough for the world; it's time to take care of yourself." "You've not been exactly perfect parents with the ten children you have, won't it mean a loss of energy or time for those who are already there if you add to your family?" "With each child you are adding more responsibility for the future." "Do you really want to go to your child's graduation with a cane?" "What will the neighbors think of even more child invading their bastion of peace and goodwill?" "What will the congregation think?" (although this is less of a question these days since we have the opportunity to be in our own home versus a church-provided parsonage).
But then there are mornings like today's when I wonder what God is saying. As I mentioned earlier, my wife is out of town on business this week, so I'm taking some time off, working at home and "kind of vacationing." So, last night as everyone was heading off for bed, our youngest son Dominyk asked to sleep in his mom's spot. He nestled in before I was ready to sleep, so that by the time I was ready for bed I had to push his fleshy little arm to his side of the bed, where it stayed for, well, five minutes. During the night it was a continual tug-of-war to see who would get enough blankets. He won. Time and time again. Twice during the night he fell out of our bed onto the floor with a sudden thump and groan, only to straggle back again. After his second episode his flailing left arm smacked me in the face. So, by the time 5:15 rolled around this morning (at least forty-five minutes earlier than I am accustomed to awakening), I got up to start my day.
By 6:15 I was awakening our newest working son so that he could get ready for summer school. His younger brother (who shares a room with him) woke up during that time long enough to embrace me warmly and fall back asleep. By 6:40 I was again back in the room to re-awaken both boys. This time it took, and they were up and getting ready with no further prodding from Dad.
At 7:00 it was time to awaken two of our other kids going to summer school, Tony (12) and Mercedes (12). Mercedes was already awake, doing whatever it is that 12-year-old girls do in front the mirror for countless minutes at a time. Tony was actually easy to awaken this morning, and he plunged into the shower with no additional verbal force on my part. Within twenty minutes they were pleasantly, calmly making cinnamon toast for breakfast. There was, surprisingly, no argumentation, no irritation, no behavior modification necessary this morning. (This doesn't happen very often, so I stood back in surprise and simply directed "traffic" and offered reminders). After breakfast Tony, who is the most non-compliant child I have ever met, responded favorably to my request that he brush his teeth.
Both were ready with time to spare, so I spent a few minutes scratching Tony's peeling (formerly sunburned) back and telling him how happy he made me this morning. He looked at me suspiciously (he's most accustomed to receiving rebuke than praise due to his behaviors), so I said, "Let's see if you can name the reasons why I am happy with you today?" His blue eyes twinkling, he said, (1) I got up without arguing, (2) I got dressed and you didn't remind me, (3) I brushed my teeth. I said, "You are absolutely right. I am so proud of you!" We had a few more nice moments before he walked off contentedly with his sister for the school bus.
In the meantime Dominyk (11) was up, dressed himself (doesn't happen every day, either) and had breakfast without prompting. We had enough time for him to sit with me, so I rubbed his back (he's always complaining that it hurts since he's gained so much weight as a result of his recent medication regimen) and we talked about his trip yesterday to the Children's Museum. Our fifteen minutes together was so relaxing we both nearly fell asleep again.
By this time Ricardo was up and ready for his "home school" summer school, which involves learning sight words, spelling and math. He is such a cooperative and complaint student that it is a joy to work with him. His reading sight words time improved today for the first time in three days, so he had a big smile to crown his achievement.
Our oldest son Rand, who is providing transportation for "our grandchildren" (you'll need to read my wife's blog to really understand that) got himself up and left without my asking him to. (Doesn't happen every day either).
It's been the start of a really nice morning. And it makes me think I could do this all over again.