At least 4 of us will. To the 5th and newest member of our family, he will be saying goodbye to everything he has ever known. I would give a healthy sum of money to read his mind. Sadly, youth and a language barrier leave much of that as a giant mystery as to what he thinks about everything that has happened to him in the last 5 weeks or maybe 5 years.
Yesterday, we threw him a birthday party. Trouble was, his birthday, according to all records is actually on June 6. However, for the last month, it has become clear that he thinks he is 4 years old. But, the paper work verifies he is actually 5 years old. This led us to a couple of destinations.
1) - That now we have a greater appreciation for people from this part of the world who have some uncertainty as to their age or birthday. Personally, when there is a ball player scandal regarding a player's age, I had always assumed it was some devious plot to mislead franchises or leagues to secure larger sums of money. In some cases, I suppose that is true. But, a large amount of the time, there is just no way to truly know how old a person is. Especially an orphan. But, not only orphans. My wife's father didn't know his true birthday either. He had a large family and they didn't use hospitals for births. When it was time to turn in his records at city hall or wherever a few years later, the belief now is that the mother confused two of her sons birth-dates. Anyway, something that I had never imagined was a scenario where our boy would be older than he thinks he is. Possibly because nobody told him it was his birthday back in June when he was waiting for us to come get him.
2) - That we have to catch him up! There is never a time where a child shouldn't celebrate their birthday. Even if it is 4 months later, we thought we could catch him up before we go home to the USA and then celebrate his birthday next year on time and he won't think anything odd of the proceedings.
So, we went to Pizza Hut (yep), bought him a bunch of gifts, found a cake at a bakery, and had a party. He seemed quite delighted and now he recognizes his age as "cinco".
Anyway, we fly on Friday assuming the US Embassy doesn't jam us up on Thursday. It might be risky to assume that it will all go smoothly, but I think 40 days is so symmetrical that it just has to happen.
This trip has been simply amazing in so many ways. It has been so long and so involved that I almost can't remember the start of it all. If there is one thing to be learned it is that the international adoption is way more complex than it needs to be. I understand red tape, but it should not take 34 months to match a willing family and a needy child. It may not be a priority for the government these days, but with millions of orphans and many families blessed with so much, if only this process were made easier, how many children could have a chance in life?
I know this anecdote has been used by many causes, but I remember the first time i heard it and in my mind equated it to helping just 1 human have a better life:
A small boy and his grandfather were walking on the beach and thousands of starfish had been tossed onto the sand by the waves and, as the sun began to beat down on them, they were about to meet the end of their existence. The grandfather picked up individual starfish and threw them into the ocean to save them.
His grandson, seeing huge numbers of starfish before them said: "Grandpa, there are thousands of them! Why are you bothering to throw any back in the ocean? We can't possible make a difference.
Grandpa smiled, picked up one starfish, waved it in front of his grandson's nose and threw it into the ocean saying: "It made a difference to that one".
Anyway, I believe our work here is done. Now life really begins back in Texas. And my work continues at the radio station. I believe Monday at noon. I really owe a debt of gratitude to all management, staff, and listeners of the Ticket. Thanks for putting up with this absence. Can't wait to get back to the job. See you then.