Yesterday, our new son, Duzi, boarded his first airplane. It was a short 45 minute flight but, to him, it was the most exciting thing in the entire world.
Here he is, meticulously looking over the safety information after the flight attendants gave an incredibly fascinating and informative pantomime of safety procedures.
After Caleb and I convinced him that we wouldn't crash, he chewed some gum and smiled for the camera.
We're now in Johannesburg, trying to meet the US requirements for an immigrant visa for Duzi. It's a long story but, we are now waiting for the Department of Home Affairs here in South Africa to process Duzi's new birth certificate with his new last name on it. This can take anywhere from 1 day to 3 months. When we have this piece of paper, we can come home.
We have very much enjoyed our time in South Africa. We've loved living in Duzi's world, learning about his heritage and story, getting to know his caregivers and advocates, and connecting with friends here. Honestly, there is no hospitality like South African hospitality. If you're not careful, you'll ingest so much tea and eat so much cake, that you'll shake uncontrollably with caffeine jitters and not be able to button your jeans. We have been very well taken care of, as has been the case every single time I've been in South Africa. With the World Cup happening here right now, the entire country (this represents a staggering amount of different people groups - there are 11 official languages) is collectively hopeful about the future and committed to showing South Africa's best face to the international soccer community. We've had the privilege of being in South Africa during a significant and impactful time in the country's history. We love South Africa, it's our son's motherland and we plan on coming back whenever we can.
But, we're very ready to come home now. We're ready to introduce the Duz to our regular family routine and to what his new normal will look like. Right now, we're eating out in restaurants, going on mini-safaris, watching movies, and generally having a blast. I'm certain that Duzi thinks he's landed the Daddy Warbucks family. That said, we're actually bonding in incredible ways without the pressures of our busy Seattle life. We've had meaningful family time and have been able to meet parenting challenges without distraction. And, let me tell you, there have been challenges.
Challenges so far (at least the ones I'm willing to post):
1)While welcoming Duzi into our family, Caleb has felt very nervous and a tad bit jealous. He is determined to prove that he is older than Duzi and more proficient at just about everything. He has needed constant reassurance that we know he's "big" and that we will not treat him like a 5-yr old.
2)Alex has said she just "misses time with mommy." She has felt the need to over-mother her brothers when they disagree or when she feels I'm not performing well enough as a disciplinarian.
3)Duzi is overtly independent at times, rejecting the love and care of mom, and strikingly dependent at others, insisting that he "must be carried." He has bonded quite easily with dad and sister, but is having a hard time viewing me as his new mom. This is actually good - it means he has been well cared for and attached to his foster mom. I'm not hurt - I completely understand. But, I think this challenge makes me all the more eager to get home and start taking care of my new baby where I best know how to do it.
4) I'm also having considerable anxiety about Duzi's ears. He gets chronic ear infections but is currently fine and healthy. I'd really like to board the plane to America without Duzi's ears acting up. Hint: RIGHT NOW WOULD BE PERFECT!
I'm not complaining, just venting and trying to be real.
Truth is, we are loving where we're at, challenges and all. Loving, loving, loving it. I just finished a wrestling match with my two sons. I'm proud to say that I can, for the moment, still take them both at once.
Pretty sure I'll have a sore neck in the morning but, it was definitely worth it.