First Weeks Home

Since we’ve been home from Africa with our adopted son, I’ve been thinking a lot about how it felt to bring home our twin daughters from the hospital almost fourteen years ago. Sure, there are a lot of differences: he’s five and can only speak the African language Lingala, and they were zero and only babbled. He’s one boy and they were two girls. I was younger with a lot more energy and now I’m well…fourteen years older.

Either way you look at it, both experiences carry certain complications and challenges. One of the challenges is to be able to remember these early days, in spite of a memory that is damaged by sleep deprivation and the occasional feeling that I have no idea what I’m doing. I didn’t fill out a “First Year” calendar for my daughters and the only journal I kept was to record their poops and pees and how much they nursed. Now I’m the mom who doesn’t know when her babies got their first tooth or rolled over. This information is lost to the ages.

With that in mind, I’m going write down some of our son’s likes and dislikes and a few of the events from our first couple of weeks together. I know I’ll be glad I did.

Ezra loves to play soccer…like a lot. It’s obvious he’s watched as much soccer as he has played it. He flops on the ground and feigns injury just as well as any professional player or Oscar-winning actor. Then he calls “P.K.” (penalty kick), walks off ten paces, and places the ball on the ground. He holds one hand in the air, makes a kissing sound (the closest he can get to whistling) and kicks the ball. If he makes a goal, he runs around celebrating and saying, “Na tye biiii!!” If he misses, he falls to the ground in utter desolation as if he just cost the Congolese national team the World Cup.

The language barrier is tricky but we’re finding ways around it. In fact, I may sign up the two of us for a mother/son Mime Camp, assuming that exists. Ezra lets me know what he wants by miming things like peeling/eating a banana, kicking a soccer ball, or sipping from a straw (this means he wants to go to Sonic). It’s an all-day game of Charades. A little girl asked me the other day how to say “cold” in Sign Language. I told her I didn’t know and I asked her why she thought I would. She said, “Well, I thought he (Ezra) only knew sign language. No? Well, how about Braille? Can you say it in Braille?”

Ezra doesn’t like milk but he loves bananas. He doesn’t care for sweets but he’s crazy about chicken. His favorite breakfast is a cup of hot tea and 2-4 slices of lipa (sandwich bread) covered with strawberry jam or mashed avocado.

He loves to dance and mess around on the piano. He found an old, overturned, metal trashcan and played it like a drum while we took turns making up songs.

He enjoys taking a bath and he will play with bath toys until the water gets cold. When we take him out of the water and towel him off, he likes to press his forehead against mine (or Brent’s if he’s the one on bath time duty) and make his hands into a tent over our faces. In the darkness between us, he whispers something in Lingala and gives me a kiss. My heart understands, so no miming required.

I could tell you about the hard parts of the past few weeks because there have been plenty—the frustrations and the eerily quiet tantrums and the wondering if I’m doing any of this right. But I want to mostly remember the good stuff—the stuff that makes us beam proudly at each other when he’s not watching and the stuff that makes Ezra Ezra.

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