A month ago Clint and I took a long walk up a busy road to a side road and walked in the doors of the agency to our son. He saw us and right away buried his face in Omma’s shoulder and pointed and the door and waved goodbye to us. I know we were both nervous about everything and despite hours upon hours of reading, planning, talking we weren’t prepared. Just like any new parent we weren’t prepared. We were prepared for what we could be yes, but did we have any idea what this next month would look like. No not really. And it’s not like we didn’t have 2 boys at home that we had already learned a ton from. But this last month has been ROUGH in a big way.
And that’s talking about us. We’re adults, we knew to be prepared and to plan and what to expect. Edric didn’t. I think Omma told him, and he knew who we were and recognized the boys when he met them a few days later. But telling a 2 year old that everything he has ever known is about to be changed forever doesn’t make a lot of sense. And it shouldn’t. He is one brave little boy. As that van drove away from the agency and we could see Omma sitting in her van crying, and Appa standing on the corner with tears running down his face waving, and Edric crying in my lap and trying to get out of the van, he did take my arms and wrap them around him to hold him tight. And so hold him tight is what I have done this past month.
No one should be born without a family. That should just be something that everyone has when they are born like oxygen. But Edric doesn’t. That tie and connection was torn and broken. No one will ever tell him his birth story, or whose eyes he has or whose toes he shares. And then the next connection he made with is Omma and Appa has also been broken. They loved and cared and doted on him for over two years. I don’t know how much of that he will remember, but they laid the foundation for his love and life with us. They gave us the only photos he will have of that time. And then he’s lost his culture. Try as we might, Clint and I will never be able to reproduce a Korean upbringing for him. My Korean is limited to a few phrases, and while we are learning and plan on continuing to learn the language and learn the culture, fact is is that we are not Korean. And even if we were, we are living in the middle of Colorado and so he’s still not in Korea. And so before he is even 2 ½ he has had more loss than many will in years of life. He’s given up and lost so much, and we have gained such a blessing through his loss which doesn’t seem fair.
And yet he wakes up each day and tries. He grows and he learns and watches and observes. And he smiles throughout it all (most of the time). He wants desperately to be just like the other two boys, and tried his hardest to take off his coat and sit down and join both of them in their classes on Tuesday when we dropped them off. Even though he’s ½ the size of Leighton he thinks he can climb/jump/hang from/do whatever Leighton does. He adores Caedmon and his face lights up when he sees him. He looks to Clint and I and gives us hugs and pats us on the back like we did for him so many times during those first few days. His Korean name means “great gift” and that only begins to describe what he has been in our lives.
Many people asked me while we were waiting if he was learning English and many were surprised that he wasn’t. I wasn’t too worried about the language, even though I tried desperately to memorize a number of phrases, even on the plane ride over. And pretty much only “hold my hand” has stuck. Which is actually ok and fairly important with a toddler. I spent a summer in college in a foreign country learning language and culture and the only phrase that I can still say today is “lets go to the park for a picnic”. Great, but maybe not the most helpful. And I’ve said it many times before after a patient has complemented me on my excellent Spanish, I can talk to anyone any day about their heart attack, bleeding, vomiting, or life threatening illness, but if I’m ever lost in a Spanish speaking country I’m in trouble, because “does the pain in your chest radiate or change or get worse with anything” or “it is important to call your regular doctor in the next 2-5 days to make an appointment to be checked again” isn’t going to help me a whole lot. Just saying.
But I do have to say with almost a month on US soil Edric has mastered some English. Granted it’s not much, but really it covers the important things. He can say “mama” and “dada” which just melts my heart. And most of the time it refers to us and isn’t just a babble of sounds. But really the first word that he mastered that meant something was “tractor”. You know, to a 2 year old boy, fewer things are more important than a big tractor. And pretty much any sort of large machinery/construction truck/tractor like object is a “tractor” in his book. For Caedmon, his first word was “exca” for excavator, so I think the two of them will get along well. (assuming they can share the many tractors/trucks/excas that we own). And then Edric has mastered the other important 2 year old vocabulary words such as “no-no-no-no” which is usually strung together like that and sounds very similar to what I yell as I leap over furniture and across a room to prevent him from putting his hands in the trash or something dangerous/dirt/gross/or just not right in his mouth, or to encourage him not to take a flying leap off the 8 foot ledge at the playground. And like the other two, one of his first words has been “uh-oh”. It’s music to a mommy of boys’ ears. Granted the music resembles a horror film sound tract, but you know. I mean what could a 2 year old (and 3 and 6 year old) do that would require an “uh-oh”? Don’t even ask. He also says “yum yum” with dinner and has quickly mastered the sign language for “more” and “please” which he uses often. And he says “bye-bye”.
So you know, for a 2 year old boy, he’s pretty much covered the important things. What else in life matters besides tractors, danger, messes, and food (and asking for more food)? He can communicate about all of those.
He is one brave little boy, and one huge blessing in our lives.