Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Tobias

I was looking at my son today and wondering how it's possible for the years to fly by so damn fast. It seems like yesterday my Partner Kelli and I were in Guatemala to pick up our beautiful little boy. Kelli said he looked like a shrunken apple head when we got the adoption referral from our agency. He was only three months old at that time. He was eight and a half months old when we finally went to Guatemala to being him back to the states.
I remember looking at him and seeing his two little bottom teeth and a huge smile. I cried. Actually I sobbed. I felt so many emotions. He was finally in our arms for good but I felt profound sadness for his birth mother because she would not see him grow up. Sorrow for his foster family who had cared for him from the first day of his life. I can't speak Spanish, but I understood when she spoke to him she was calling herself "mama."
Our son was running his fingers through her long hair (he still loves long hair) as her husband stood nearby with his head bowed. All we could do to show our appreciation for this wonderful family who cared for our son was to present a Kitchen-Aid mixer to his foster mother as we knew she earned a living as a baker. I actually felt like I was giving the mixer in exchange for a child.
I was suddenly terrified. I knew nothing about being a mother and had gone from a partnership with Kelli to being a mother to a eight and a half month old. He didn't talk, and he had never been spoken to in English. I envisioned that as soon as his foster parents left us for good our son, who we chose to name Tobias, would go crazy and scream for his "family." I held him tight as we gave hugs all around and watched his foster family walk out the door turning once for one last look at the child that had occupied a space in their hearts for almost a year.
Kelli and I were like two deer in headlights. I waited for him to start screaming. Instead he looked at us and smiled.
He didn't change. He laughed and screamed with joy. The Guatemalan employees at the hotel called Tobias "Muchias Gritas" meaning "much screaming." I felt oddly proud as if I had something to do with his wonderful personality. We did our best to kill him while we were there as we were giving him formula but not enough because the directions were in Spanish. We didn't know the formula had to be refrigerated so we would leave his bottle on the table and just pop it in his mouth when he got hungry. I know we should all drink water throughout the day as it's good for us. I would give Tobias a bottle of water too. I didn't know I could have given him water toxicity. He never wavered. Whatever we threw at him, he took with a smile. He would rock back and forth to music. He would try and pull up. Everything was amazing.
Kelli and I were terrified when we had to fly home to Atlanta. I was afraid he would scream the entire way because of his ears. I was right, he did scream all the way home, but it was "Muchias Gritas" amplified.
I really had no idea how life would change though I had heard it so much from so many people I could have screamed. They were right. Life changed.
Saturday our Tobias will be six years old. It's been on the job training since day one. The baby books just made me scratch my head and wonder where the chapter was in the book that pertained to my kid's crisis. Usually problems were solved with calls to our moms, my sister or just good old fashioned "grin and bear it."
You know what, I wouldn't change a thing. As I sit here and watch him play with his toys and listen to him as he tells his stories to his characters, I just smile.
What a ride. I hope it never stops.

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