Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Family Poster

    We had "homework" that had been an optional project all year- to make an "Etienne's Family" poster.  His little classroom has been decorated with other bright boards displaying fresh pink newborns or toddlers with messy birthday cake faces.  We've occasionally talked about them, he definitely paid attention each time a classmate brought a new one in.  Yesterday he finally decided he wanted to make his own (with 2 weeks left of school!).   It felt like a decision that Etienne had been processing for so long that I thought I'd better jump on it.
     Right away, E felt the urgency to get pictures for his poster, so the grandparents obliged his request.  On the way he said,
"Don't you think my birth mom should be on the picture too?" 
    Wow!  That was to the point.  Again, kind of a ginormous conversation in the mini van with James Taylor blaring (it was Zeke's turn to pick). Where is Ryan when these things get said anyway?  I swallowed my emotions, and reminded him that we didn't have any photos but maybe we could draw something else.  E and Zeke both said "A heart!"  Then went on to remind me that their birth moms loved them.  They couldn't formulate the whys or hows but I figured that four some preschool boys, they are grasping something that the general adult population can't wrap their brains around.
     This is Etienne's birth mom with a big, pink heart.  The convo in Hobby Lobby went something like this:
Blake: "E! Your dark chocolate skin is from her! You need these markers."
(The flavors started 2 yrs ago with the boys. E is dark chocolate, Zeke is caramel, Molly is  mango-peach flavored, I am blonde, Blake is vanilla and Daddy is Neapolitan. Just kidding, for some reason Dad doesn't have a flavor. Poor him.)
E: "Yes! And my eyes need to be black.  Can we just use this  licorice?"  Giggles from the peanut gallery.
     Everyone got involved in the poster making.  Ryan and I helped Etienne lie out the "story" of the day that we brought him home. While I will always treasure that moment, telling him last night about that sweet day was also poignant.  We pointed out to E and Zeke the little airport symbol on the Rwanda map that he had glued down.  Then we set down a picture of Nyanja, our Rwanda "Auntie" that was responsible for coordinating dossiers, referrals and everything adoption related in country.  She will always be a part of the story.  We told the them that she "helped God get us to our boys."
      Than we found a picture of Mama and Daddy right as they were seeing E and Zeke for the first time.  We thought it would be cool for the boys to see our expressions in the family story.  Sort of a substitute for those stereotype exhausted, hospital clad new parent pics.  So overrated.
     The next pic in the story was one of Etienne being held for the first time by his earthly father.  This gets me.  I am sure you can see why by those eyes.
    And than this picture of him with his forever family.

     The rest of his poster had  photos of Ranger, the grandparents and Laurel.  Molly did some fancy third grade style bubble letters and Blake attempted briefly to assist with gluing.  There will be many, many school projects and family trees that pull at our heart strings.  We will navigate this unscripted territory and I know that each time may sometimes lead to more emotions and more dysfunction (this was followed by some lying that led to a late night).  That's okay.  That's where grace comes in.  That's where our family's life is deeper, richer and never, ever mundane.  

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