The flip side

Tonight we saw some dear friends ride down the airport escalator with their new son in their arms. Others are headed home soon and very soon with their new little ones.

Since coming home with Pearl about two and a half years ago, we have seen child after child come home with their new mamas and papas. Sassafras and Pearl have been to the airport as much as they have been to hospitals to welcome our friends' new additions, and always help me remember to pack the tiny little American flags to give to our new fellow citizens.  

You'd thinking that surely by now I can keep my silly little self together at these airport homecomings, but I absolutely cannot. Tears, every time. The why-even-bother-with-mascara kind of tears. 

It's knowing these people's life journeys as well as their adoption journeys and just all the victory that is displayed in those tiny little hands clutching their mamas' shirts. 

It's knowing that some of the countries these sweet children arrive from have made worship of Christ illegal...yet seeing them in the redemptive arms of their sweet mamas and faith-filled daddies and realizing that now they'll hear about Him daily. 

It's knowing that for God to have moved these children halfway around the world to be with a family who will adore them, He must have some seriously big plans for them. 

It's knowing that much unlike their experiences as orphans, these kiddos now never have to worry about having disease-free water or a place to sleep or enough food to eat or clothes to wear or someone to love them and say so by standing up for what is right for them.

There's just so much to take in, seeing a former orphan (and breathing in what that really has meant for that child) in the arms of a mama and daddy who will love that sweet kiddo in all the best ways. And so I overflow. 

And then we follow them out the front doors into reality. 

The culmination of the adoption journey might be felt at the airport or standing at the crib seeing a new little inhabitant, but it is at this out-the-door moment when real life begins for an adoptive family. I watched them head on out and began to pray for their first weeks and months together, hoping that they're not but knowing the transition and that they could be headed for hard. 

Now those new families are beginning the back-breaking work of bonding and attaching with their new children. We've walked through some fire in that area, and know that parenting adopted kids is a bit trying in some pretty unique ways.  

Now that we've been on the flip side, we are seeing that supporting adoptive families is hard, too. When all we've wanted is to grab those new kiddos and squeeze the goodness in them or kiss all over their perfect faces, we have to practice self-restraint because we know that  these children need help learning that they aren't in an institution anymore and now need to develop a sense of trust and dependency solely on their parents. 

When after praying for these kids for so long we want to grab their arm and get them to look at us so we can try to see their smile, we have to resist because we know that parent-only attention is what will help knit their families' hearts together.

Taking care not to ignore their siblings is an important way to support newly-adoptive families as well. Some of our closest friends knew this was an issue in our family, and they deliberately made sure to speak to our Sass first when we saw them. It made all the difference in the world for a sensitive little something who was confused about why everyone literally ran to dote on Pearl but most of the time just shoved or elbowed her out of the way. 

Directing these freshly-home little ones back to their mamas and papas is the best way to love these families right now. And wow, it is HARD...because they are CUTE, y'all. 

But if a little hard for us takes away a lot of hard for those families, so be it.