When do you ever just sit down, just to sit down? Without any intent to do anything, just to sit and breathe and be. I sit down to eat, sit down to watch television, sit down to help Alex with homework, sit down to write, correspond, and a myriad of other things. These days I often am sitting down to sew too, which I am still finding rather ironic, and this past week I sat to finish some year end accounting for the ministry.
But this morning, after two and a half rather painful hours of doing homework with Alex while trying to pretend that it was fun (I had him convinced for awhile when we made words with scrabble tiles before writing them down), I was tired. My body hurts and is retaliating for the hours of bike riding we did last week. I sat very contentedly in my favorite rocking chair in the living room, just staring out the window. From this spot I can watch Alex ride his bike over to the neighbors where his little buddy Edwin lives. In between our houses is a corn patch that is looking quite promising despite the relentless wind we’ve had for the past few days. Along the road the pine trees wave their branches as two horses dip and raise their heads as they plod slowly by.
It’s a quiet moment, yet nearly impossible to remain in this thoughtless space. I started thinking about what I would write about today - sometimes I feel the need to communicate but don't always have the words to do so. I wondered if Alex is going to be ok, what his life will be like when it is already as difficult as it is in public with the stares and comments. I wonder what he will do, where he will do it.
|Alex with his biological parents, age 3|
I wonder if his mother was as heartbroken to lose her boy as I am to have lost mine.
|Alex at 16 months|
It’s not a thought I want to entertain long, but it is there. Originally Alex had been taken from his home by social services because of a lack of care, but it was supposed to be temporary. In those first years the family came to visit, brought him little gifts of fruit and juice, luxuries for a large family living on the meager wages brought in from working in the fields. Eventually the time came for him to go back, they had met the requirements (land, shelter, etc) however by this time he had been with me for two years. Two very formative years, years he was by my side 24/7. Some said I was spoiling him, but he was just so small and afraid to be alone, and after two years the bond was deep between us. I could not imagine him going back now, what would that be like for him? I would never be able to explain it to him, he would be crushed. What would it be like for me?
So I intervened. I asked his father if he wouldn’t consider letting him stay. If he wouldn’t consider the fact that his tiny son had already acclimated to a completely different life, and if he could understand that with his skin issues Alex would need a different kind of life from the one he had. Alex won’t be able to work in the fields, too much time in the sun and he is overheated, with painful cracks between his fingers and toes and anywhere two thick pieces of skin meet.
|First Christmas together|
I was surprised when he said he understood, and that it would probably be for the best. I made sure he knew what my intentions were, as spanish is his second language as it is mine.
He knew, and he and his family left in one direction, and their son and I in the other. I was too over-joyed, too relieved to consider her feelings for long. I mean, it crossed my mind that it would be difficult for her, but not until now have I really thought about how her loss may have affected her life, how it still probably does. Especially now that they have not visited or seen their boy in nearly two years. Whenever the subject comes up I try to talk about it with Alex, but he does not express his feelings often. Sometimes at night when I put him to bed he wonders about them, but usually when I ask he says he’d rather not visit them.
But the other night when we were saying good-night he said rather abruptly, “I want to go and live with my family.” His announcement stopped me heart in an instant, and closed-throated, I could only stare at him. The thought of losing Alex has been the source of fear and panic lately, and the thought coming from him hit me hard.
“It’s just that, well I think they miss me. And I miss them. Because we miss Miguel, because he is gone, and so I think they are sad.”
|My little vaquero|
When do children develop such deep thought? How could he struggle with the names of all the numbers, and then come up with such a profound sentiment? He is amazing, this boy, this child becoming a young man. He loves and cares and sees beauty in simple things. He plays and laughs and hurts and weeps when he is afraid.
I still couldn’t speak, so I just nodded and squeaked out an, “Ok”, and left his room.
So this is the where I am now, today. Was I wrong? How conflicted Alex must be, wanting to love and please me while knowing that there are other people to whom he has an allegiance. His family as well, knowing that he will have different opportunities with me yet missing his presence in their family. As Christians we are often so gung-ho to get out there to ‘fix’ things, when maybe they only appear to be broken. My heart and desire has been to grow a family with children who need one, but am I only taking things that don’t belong to me?
Now, please don’t write me comments saying, ‘Karen you didn't do anything wrong, you have done so much for Alex’, etc. I don’t write this for accolades or a pat on the back for encouragement. I’m not saying what I did was wrong; to me it isn’t. Rather, it is an example of sacrificial love - love his biological mom and family had for him to be able to give him up for what they hope is better for their son.
Right and wrong can be so hard, so many shades of gray when looking at a picture in 3D, colored with logic and good intentions. Many believe that God has a specific plan for our lives, which I do as well, but I don’t think it is specific in the way that we humans imagine it to be. I believe that God has a plan for us to learn, to understand certain aspects of life and be able to separate Him from the chaos, preparing us for when we will live with Him again. I can see that God’s will for our lives is multi-faceted, that whether we make a decision to do one thing or another is not what is important, rather what we have taken away from it, and how we were changed by it.
|That's my boy|
The next morning after Alex had made his surprising announcement, he woke up early and came to cuddle with me. My feelings hurt, I asked him if he really wanted to go to live with his family.
“Well, not like live with them forEVER” he calmly replied.
“You just wanted to go to visit?” I questioned.
“Ya, visit. Hey Mom can we have pancakes for breakfast?”