Close your eyes.
I mean it.
I am assuming that you, the reader, has been in an airport terminal before. If you haven't please go rent the Terminal staring the wonderful Tom Hanks and then come back. I'll wait. While we wait isn't it funny that you're still reading this even after I asked you to close your eyes? Worse yet I expected you to follow directions found on the Internet...
Back to the closed eyes. Imagine leaving your home for the airport and after having a amazingly cogent discussion on the economics of the Eurozone post Brexit with your Uber driver you find your self sitting in an air plan terminal (did you finish the movie yet?). Everything around you is familiar, but it isn't quite home. You claim to be outgoing and open to new adventures in your Facebook profile, but deep down this travel is making you a little uneasy. The fairly paid but under appreciated gate clerk makes an announcement and like a good little passenger you step in line awaiting your chance to subject all rights and privileges you though you had to the air-liner ferrying your increasingly sore body to your final destination. Oh, oops, I meant to your first layover.
Two hours later after countless steps walked, status update checks, and a selfie on Instagram of you at an Orange Julius with a guy who looks like that one guy on the show you recently binged on Netflix, you find yourself back in that familiar situation. Do you have time to head the bathroom before final boarding or not? You chance it and hop on the airplane to your final destination (yes I mean it this time, and coincidentally another movie about air travel but I wouldn't watch it just prior to a flight) sandwiched between two strangers. One is slightly larger than the average passenger but is super jovial, and the other a smaller almost pixie like individual that at first glance makes the flight look bearable, until she opens her take out container and lets the aromas waft all around you. And now the answer is you should've tried before boarding the plane. The important thing is that you know what you are doing. You're in a plane, in your seat, and can at least relax in the thought that you've done "you" for the day and you did it well.
Three hours, four chapters, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", and a quick play through the new Steven Tyler Country album (it's like a train wreck you have to look right?) later you land at your final destination. Your new home for a while. You debark the plane, follow the other lemmings through security, customs, security, baggage claim, security, and there you are. You are in an airport that looks like any other airport you've seen. Sure the stores might have different names, the language is no longer English but the signs have subtitles so you make do. Thankfully you've prearranged someone to take you to the hotel you'll be staying at. After some small talk and perhaps a dive into each other's family lives (spouses, kids, lack thereof) you arrive at the hotel after navigating traffic that you can only describe as the pruning process a toddler/adolescent brain goes through (CHAOS. You have a handy little paper drawn map showing you some sites, perhaps a familiar store from back home, and a few other details you head up to your room. Alone.
The next morning you wake up and begin to slowly conquer the "challenges" (HA) in front of you. You manage to speak with a clerk at the hotel desk to get new money. You navigate a whole three blocks down a straight road to get Coke (a-Cola), perform the obligatory picture dance trying to order food with someone you can't communicate with and they didn't bother to learn English to communicate with you (joking! it isn't their fault you are too lazy to even learn the basics of another country's culture, much less their language). On and on you go living in discomfort surrounded by the basic construct of commerce, emotions and facial expressions that you recognized, but immersed in a language and culture that is maddeningly unaccessible to you.
And then you go home. Your time is over, familiarty has returned, and you can go back to your late night munching of whatever is in the pantry. You are comfy again and only have pictures of the good times to remind you that once you were far away from the comforts and familiarity of home. The unfamiliar is over.
Today was gotcha day. We arrived at the Civil Affairs office and met our son for the first time. My wife will have a beautifully written recap later in the week. At some point in the next ten years (97% of facts on the internet are made up) I'm sure that my son Joshua will run out of things that are unfamiliar to the sweet little four year old tucked in bed nearby. Kristi shared with me that someone had mentioned the feeling you have when you first step off the plan and how it correlates to the feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed of a newly adopted child. To him this isn't exciting, or life changing, or perhaps even like a fun vacation yet. Josh is going to spend the next ??? months/years getting off the plane before someday things simply look "normal". I suppose he's going to be living a Ground Hog's day like life for a while.
I'm no expert, I'm just a guy dealing with jet-lag and traveling with a wife and (now) two kids under 7. However in 1995 I stayed in the Leesburg, FL Holiday Inn Express which means I can say with quasi-authority that it is easy to think that we are doing something good or noble. It would be easy to say that we are making a better life for him (hey he didn't choose me, that's for sure) but in the end we're just a well meaning family who removed a young boy from the only home he's ever known. That is no knock on adoption or fostering, I just think that is the one thing that is easy to gloss over until you watch the previous caregivers take their last photos of the child before they sneak out of a room leaving the kids with his/her new family. So as I try desperately to tie this up I simply ask you to consider the quote I tried to steal from my pastor that I shared above. It isn't until you decide to change the way you see the world, that you will see a different world.
Today marks day one of the rest of our journey with Joshua. Thank you for your past, present, and you better believe we'll need your future support as well. Thank you for your prayers and care to make today possible.
p.s. To hear what my pastor really meant with his words you should watch the video from March 5th, 2017. If you like it, you should come visit Sundays at 9:00AM and 10:45AM.