Friday, June 8, 2012

The Year Love Built

It was one year ago this week that Leo became a part of our family.  A lot has happened in that year.  Three surgeries, more doctor and specialist appointments then I can count, and the forming of the most amazing family bond.  One year ago, Leo was a cute, cuddly stranger.  We welcomed him into our home and he worked his way into all of our hearts.  One year later, Leo is a Shafer.  And not in name only.  Each of our kids has welcomed Leo into their hearts and lives in their own way and time.

Some, like Jordan, were enamored with Leo from the start.  It was love at first sight for Jordan.  He couldn't and still can't get enough of Leo.  He is probably Leo's biggest fan.

Others, like Amanda, took a little more time to warm up.  In the beginning Leo had the worst projectile reflux I have ever seen.  This was "gross" to a 13 year old girl. The reflux smelled awful.  Leo was not very discerning with who he spit up on.  But as the year has progressed, something happened Amanda fell in love with Leo.  You can now hear her talking to Leo and playing with him.  Leo is her brother.

Others, like Ben and Jonathan, took the transition smoothly.  Thankfully.  They didn't see Leo as a threat.  In some ways, they saw many benefits to Leo joining our family.  We now had baby toys out.  Jonathan loves playing with Leo's toys.  Ben loves entertaining and singing to Leo.  It was normal to Ben and Jonathan to have a baby suddenly become their brother. 

Tyler loves Leo.  Leo has brought out the sensitive side to Tyler.  Last week we went to a special needs carnival at Davisville Church.  At one game, Tyler had to race a 4 year old girl to see who could fill up a bucket the fastest.  It was quite evident that Tyler was going slower then he could have.  He did it in such a way that it was a close race and the little girl had the biggest smile on her because she beat a big boy!  Tyler is tender and loving.  Leo helps bring out these qualities in Tyler. 

Adding to your family through adoption is different then giving birth- we all know that- but also in some ways is how you fall in love with the child.  We had maybe 2 months from the first phone call to when Leo came to live with us.  We loved him immediately.

But in some ways in the beginning, my heart was guarded.  We met Leo's birthmom.  She handed him to me on June 6th, 2011.  Trusting me with her son.  She left in tears.  I will be honest.  I was worried.  What if she changed her mind?  What if she wanted him back?  A year later, I am confident- I am Leo's mom.  If you ask him where is mommy- he looks for me.  When I leave a room, he comes looking for me.  We are his family.  His birthmom will always be an important piece of his history and will always be his mom, but we are his family. 

This has been  a year of growing and of watching love grow.  I will admit because of Leo's medical needs I am not sure if we will ever find a normal.  I believe our new normal is that each day is a gift, fulled with surprises, and we need to live just one day at a time.  Not worrying about tomorrow, but rather learning to lean on God for the strength needed today.

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