“Caleb, did you know that you’re my boy?”
“Caleb your boy?”
“Yep, did you know that you’re daddy’s boy?”
“Yes.” He said with eye aglow.
I leaned in to kiss him while tucking his covers up tight around his neck. As I turned and walked toward his door to turn out the light, he spoke again.
“And your son.”
I thought I might have misheard him. So I turned back around and said, “What did you say?”
“…and your son.”
“That’s right, buddy, you’re my son.”
I don’t know why, but this statement coming from my 2-year old boy startled me. He was making a distinction that I’ve been wrestling with from the day we adopted our boys from Ethiopia.
I don’t know why, but it’s much easier to say that they’re my boys than it is to say they’re my sons. Even when I’m introducing my family to people I’ve noticed that I say, “I have three daughters and two boys.” Something about the word “son” feels awkward to say aloud. I feel bad saying that, but it’s the truth.
For some who adopt, the connection is immediate, the bond almost seamless. Love flows freely, feelings run deep as though it were meant to be and always was all at the same time. There isn’t a grafting into, there is almost an ordained spirit of oneness that permeates the relationship from the get-go. I’ve seen it, I’ve read of it, I’ve prayed for it…but I haven’t experienced that, at least to the degree I’ve witnessed in others who have adopted.
It’s taken time to feel like their father, the way I feel like my girl’s father. To hold them without knowing I’m holding them. To kiss them without being aware that I’m kissing them. To play with them without self-consciousness or restraint.
I’m getting there, but in fits and starts. There will be moments that I forget about our life without them and feel as though it’s not just the “new normal” but all we’ve every known. These are truly beautiful moments. But they aren’t as frequent as I wish they were. I’m sure there will come a day when I don’t even think about it, but after over a year and a half, I’m still startled occasionally.
“and your son.”
How could my 2-year old sense my need to go to that place? How could his jovial little spirit speak aloud such a clear delineation, such a much needed distinction?
As I kissed him again and again stroking his hair and rubbing his arm I said to him again and again, “You’re my son, Caleb. You aren’t just my boy, you’re my son.”
“Caleb your son?” he asked as he laid his head on my arm.
“Yep.” I reply with misty eyes.
“Caleb your son.”