In the past three weeks, a family has been created.
But it’s not the one I expected.
I have been so small-minded in my definitions and my options. I thought that this would be an either-or choice: either Soccer Boy is my son, or he is a host child I was called to minister to for a summer and then let go.
And it turns out that neither one is true. I can no less let go of him than I can let go of my own child. He might not always be physically with me, but he is my family, my pērtiķis, my little monkey. But he will also not be my son, in the traditional-legal sense of the word.
It is bittersweet. And ever so wonderful. All at the same time.
But what has knocked me sideways the most is the revelation that my either-or choice never mattered. I have been trying so hard to define what this boy is to me using the labels that we have for family.
Mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, friend.
But I’m mad at language.
It’s full of peg-holes.
What happens when there isn’t a word for what this boy is to me?
Little Man said that Soccer Boy is “my brother, once removed.”
My child, sometimes removed. Held, and released, and protected, and given, and shared. Never removed from my soul.
He is my family. I would die for him. I will do everything in my power to make sure he is happy and loved and blessed.
But I have been so busy worrying about what we are to one another, I was blindsided by the larger family that God was bringing together. The others who have come alongside me and loved this boy as well. It was never just about him and me. It was about the new relationships that would be built so that this little boy could have an American family.
It’s a family that doesn’t have labels. It’s a family without easy definitions and names. It’s complicated and messy.
And rather hexagonal.
How did I not see this one coming?
Probably because there is something happening here that is beyond my comprehension. We are so quick to define, to label, to qualify, that sometimes we miss the way that we are grafted together into this amazing mosaic of unconditional sacrifice.
I thought I was going to get a son for the summer. Instead I gained a family that will last far beyond a season.
And as the days dwindle on our special time together, I am trying to gather each moment to me. This boy, this child of my heart, will know how much I love him. I will chase him through the house, tease him, kiss him, listen to his stories, store up his giggle.
I will give him everything I have and everything I am because it is already his.
It will never be this way again.
As God grows this special family and the uniqueness of His creativity is painted on the canvas of my life, each stroke brings a little gasp. Bittersweet cries of awe as my colors are blended into a beautiful picture that is not just me anymore. And sometimes the blends are different from what I thought or imagined, but they are infinitely better. I don’t hold this little boy on my own. As this wordless family is painted in such lavish generosity, I see that I am not alone in this.
I never was.
I am grateful to have been in the first strokes of this boy’s American family, and that will never change.
But I am changed. I am better.
I never could have imagined what was coming.
And the story isn’t over.
That’s where the rest of you get to throw your bits of color onto this canvas. Next month, I will be having a yard sale with Stephanie to raise money for upcoming New Horizons missions God is painting, both with this boy and others.
One thing I have learned is that I serve a big God. And he will give generously. So we will ask expectantly for big things…. $12,000 worth of big things.
As I end this special time with Soccer Boy, I want to focus on him. I will have more information in the coming weeks about what great things God is doing, but for now we are going to hunker down together.
But I would ask that the rest of you please begin to pray about your part in this journey. Family isn’t just mother, father, sister, brother. It is wordless, unconditional love.
Stephanie and I will be collecting donations for the sale immediately. Please contact one of us if you have something to give.
And please pray for my wordless family. The days are coming to a close, and my heart is raw.
I have no words for the coming days. So I will simply be the wordless family with every moment that is here now.