3 years ago Tomas and Binyam touched Iowa soil for the first time.
3 years ago I wrote this about being home.
3 years ago this was indicative of how Tomas felt about me.
3 years ago we would find Binyam awake, looking out a crack in the doorway hours after we put him to bed. So scared that something would change while he was sleeping, he remained vigilant until I figured out I had to sit by his bedside until he fell asleep.
3 years ago we didn’t have air conditioning in our house (yikes!)
3 years ago the kids looked like this.
So hard to believe it’s been only 3 years since bringing “The Birhanu brothers” home. I genuinely can’t picture my life without either of them and so to believe I have spent more time as a mom without them than with is kind of jarring to my senses.
We’ve come a long way from the time that Tomas wouldn’t look at me, let alone hold my hand. Most nights he can be found making a beeline for me to hug and kiss goodnight and forgetting to do the same for Zach. Binyam barely blinked the first few weeks home he was so over stimulated. He didn’t talk, he didn’t smile (much) he drooled constantly. Looking back, I’ve never actually seen a child exhibit fear in such a profound way at such a young age. Today he’s our giggle monster who falls asleep the second his head hits the pillow.
The first time I saw those two little boys I knew they were going to be ours. I knew they were adorable, I knew their social reports made them sound like perfect little angels. I knew of Binyam’s club feet and Tomas’s older age. I knew the bare minimum and yet, I knew they were my sons.
I had no idea Tomas was called “little mayor” in Ethiopia and that his ability to win over adults in split seconds would negatively affect our bonding. I had no idea Tomas would struggle so much with his working memory, forgetting details so easily-making it harder for him in school and any social setting that would require him to remember to bring things. 🙂
I had no idea Binyam would shut down when he felt attacked to the point of screaming and drooling for an hour at a time. I had no idea he would climb so far into himself that no one could get to him for hours or days. I had no idea that this would affect his schooling and his ability to maintain relationships.
But I also had no idea that Tomas would teach me all I ever needed to know about joy. I had no idea that when I heard Tomas laugh with absolute abandon for the first time that the sound would settle somewhere in my heart to be accessed in really tough moments. I had no idea that one day he would be the kid I turned to when I needed someone to tell me a story that would make me both laugh and cry. I had no idea one day he would hug me, without prompting, and I would feel more loved than I ever have in my whole life.
I had no idea that Binyam would one day look at me with his big eyes after getting discouraged and say things like, “I did it, mommy! I took deep breaths and I didn’t get angry like you said!” I had no idea that mothering Binyam would unleash a mama bear in me that had yet to be discovered. That when I didn’t think he was getting the help or attention he needed that I would unceasingly call every person I knew to get him an appointment with someone I knew could help. I had no idea when he gave me a kiss with those beautiful lips (snot included!) of his that I would know for certain all good and perfect things come to those who wait.
These last 3 years haven’t always been easy. There have been days when I wanted to give up. Days I wanted to start again. There have been many unanswered prayers, but many more answered even though I never thought to ask.
What I know for sure? Regardless of the fact that we knew nothing about these boys before we begged to adopt them, they have been two of life’s greatest blessings for me. Proof that we don’t always need to know every possible outcome of every possible equation to know fully what we are supposed to do. To me, Tomas and Binyam are proof of God’s grace to a gal like me, because surely no unworthy soul would ever be given two remarkable boys like them.