Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jacob

Dear Jacob,

My heart almost burst with love for you yesterday.

We were decorating for Christmas and you walked over to a box of ornaments, picked up a little wreath that had a bell attached and shook it as you sang--in the faintest of voices-- "Jiggle Bell, Jiggle Bell, jiggle all away..." The rest of the chorus was muffled but it was undoubtedly the sweetest thing I have ever seen. I didn't know you even knew that song much less an attempt at the words. No, it wasn't some huge milestone that has its own page in baby books. It was one of those little nuggets of time when I wanted to press the "pause" button and soak in the wonder of you. I have had many of those moments in the past three years. And, one thing is for certain. Your fiery temper and independent "I do it" nature is balanced well with a tender, sweet, playful spirit that shines brightly through those big, blue eyes...eyes that make me melt on a daily basis.

I remember three years ago like it was yesterday. The classic image of an expectant mother, I was sitting in your nursery rocking in a rocking chair with nothing but a small table lamp illuminating the features of your room. I surveyed the murals on the wall, the closet full of tiny clothes and the basket of stuffed animals ready to be loved. I listened to the rain drops fall softly on the window ledge outside and dreamed of holding you and gently rocking you to sleep. Two short days later you came into this world and the countdown to bring you home began. As grueling as that process was in 2007, it is but a distant memory as you sit 3 feet from me right now playing with the new tool set you got for your birthday.

The joy you bring to our lives is inexplicable. Your enthusiasm for each new day, your sly little grin and the way you bound into my arms each morning makes my heart smile. You are a wonderful, smart, curious, energetic, humorous, stubborn, sweet child and I am blessed to be your Mom.

Happy 3rd birthday, Jacob. I could not love you more.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thank You, Michael Jackson.

They say love defies barriers of all kinds: distance, age, race, time, language and even socio-economic status. But love's got nothin' on the King of Pop. And for that, I am grateful.

You see, good friends Amy and David recently expanded their heart and their home to bring home a sibling pair from Ethiopia. Mary and Mel (ages 10 and 8) have experienced more change in their short lives than many kids do well into adulthood. After the death of their biological mother last year, they were living in an orphanage before making their transition to America following the finalization of their adoption by the Watsons.

Being an adoptive parent myself, I know firsthand the challenges presented by bringing home a child who has not been exposed to the English language. For Amy and David, that issue is multiplied not only by the fact they brought home two children, but also the older age of their kiddos presents its own inherent challenges. Accustomed to being able to communicate their needs and emotions, Mary and Mel are now surrounded by well-meaning Americans who long to talk and interact with them but are, understandably, intimidated by the language barrier.

This is the situation I found myself in while hanging with Amy and the kids this evening.

Shy and quite timid around adults, Mary is a beautiful young woman whose maternal instincts towards her brother Mel remind you that they are used to watching out for each other. Mel, on the other hand, is quite the little charmer. His big brown eyes sparkle with mischief as he ducks from your gaze all while trying to conceal the huge grin on his face. My attempts to communicate with Mary were mostly limited to a quick nod of the head or smile while my time with Mel included several rounds of "gimme five. way up high. way down low. You're too slow..." (only he got me every time. )
That was, until Mel turned on the CD player and on came a Michael Jackson song. Without thinking, I immediately started singing along.

"Hey pretty baby with the high heels gimme fever like I've never ever known..." The familiar high-pitched strains of the song "The Way You Make Me Feel" came on and, when I started singing, both Mary and Mel looked up and stared with smiles on their faces. Just then, Mel started showing me his finest M.J. dance moves as I tried in earnest to hit the high, high notes "hee! hee hee!" Mary started giggling and watched me intently for the first time since we'd met. She then looked over and told Amy I was "crazy."

I couldn't have been more thrilled. Know why?

Because I AM crazy. Everybody tells me so. And thanks to Michael Jackson, Mary knows so, too. The power of music transcended culture, heritage, age and especially language as it brought me a little closer to these children for whom I had been praying for a very long time. For a moment, a simple song on the radio made it feel as if those kids had always been a part of our lives and that there were absolutely no barriers with which we had to contend. There was just a boy and a girl,smiles on their faces and a crazy blonde lady singing along to the radio.

Thank you, Michael Jackson, for the gift you gave me this evening. The gift of moving one tiny step closer to gaining the trust of these wonderful kiddos.

Music is a beautiful thing.