God’s love is best reflected in the example of the orphan. He loves orphans – He has proven it in His great love towards us as adopted children. I understand that love. At least I am beginning to. One of my best teachers has been my adopted son, Samuel. It was twelve years ago today we celebrated a “first,” third birthday with Sam. We brought Samuel Miras (which means peace) home from the orphanage in Kazakhstan, on June 1, 2002. We gave him a little riding car that you move by scooting your feet, for his birthday. We had seen it in a store a week before and he had loved it. He had been so very good when it was time to leave, that we knew we had to go back for it. It has seen a lot of abuse over the last twelve years, and a bunch of grandchildren. He was 24 pounds and 31 inches tall – malnourished, small in stature, and very, very, angry. He had not been treated well in the orphanage because he wasn’t a go with the flow kind of kid. We were fortunate to receive videos from other parents adopting who just happened to see Sam in them. When all the other children were eating Cheerios or cookies from the American stranger, getting hugs from them, playing with them, he was the one wanting to stay with the caretaker and read books. He was the one who threw himself down and tried to crawl under the cribs. He didn’t want Cheerios. He was the one carried off to the back room. Little did we realized how healthy that really was, and how much despite his other challenges, attachment would not be one of them. He came home 6 months after that video. One year later, he was an uncle. And to this day, his best friend is his nephew, Ethan. We spent 28 days away to bring him home. The first 21 were at the orphanage bonding. He wanted nothing to do with us at first and screamed. At the end of the day when any of the other children would have stayed with us, Sam happily waved to go back to his group. When we finalized his adoption, he screamed for four days. He screamed for his passport photo, he screamed the whole way to Moscow…he screamed… And I wanted to drop him from 35,000 feet flying over the Atlantic Ocean. We worked hard on attachment – I regressed him back to a bottle, we fed him by hand, he slept in our bed and then our room –forever. He learned to love – and he learned to trust. He began to play more, scream less; his older sisters loved to dress him up and take pictures, in this case, a Roman. There were still lots of tears, lots of yelling, lots of attachment work, and lots of anger, anger, and more anger…but God’s love and family love were winning the race. There were (and still are) some challenges – nothing he does wrong – just sometimes life throws you a curve ball. I well remember the first time someone picked on him for being “Chinese, ching, chong, chong” and he came back to us crying. He is not an emotional kid and when he cries it stems from deep pain. The mom in me wanted to hurt the little ___. Dad took care of it by speaking to the parents who were apologetic. “Breathe Jamie, life is painful…But NOT MY BABY. Not this gentle spirit with so many challenges already.” Life is unkind. People are unkindest. God is good. Homeschooling has been a great way for him to adjust to live out of the orphanage at his own pace, without the pain of a judgmental, competitive, and fallen world. There is plenty of time for that as he enters the world. And for the skeptics who think kids need socialization and miss out too much – sorry, your words fall on deaf ears. The seven kids who have gone before him are all upstanding, hard-working, honest, intelligent, citizens with good jobs, grades, degrees, mothers and fathers – the kind of people who businesses want to hire – and keep. A little nurturing through the informative years can go a long way. Class trips with his cousins are always a blast, and he loves being the “older kid.” He is now involved in a homeschool coop which gives him an opportunity to develop his social skills more, his emotion regulation, and have deadlines, projects and teachers other than mom who he has to answer to. Most importantly – a place for friends. And he grew. And he laughed. And he loved. Adoption is for orphans. He is no longer an orphan. He is a loved and cherished member of a family, just as we are when we join in God’s Kingdom as adopted children. Jesus becomes our perfect brother – more than mere human, He never disappoints, rejects, or bruises. Joy replaces pain, family replaces isolation. Weakness becomes strengths. On the farm, he helped to care for the sheep. Marvin was his pet, and ran after him like a dog would. Unfortunately, that also meant diving into the house at every opportunity. Did you ever try to house break a sheep? Me neither. Marvin had to stay with the farm when we moved. He is right-brained – artistic beyond belief. He draws. He writes deep, thought invoking stories and quotes. He is a talented photographer. He still collects the eggs, but now he also takes pictures of them. How can a child so young understand suffering so much more than the average adult? But somehow, from the depths of his heart comes compassion that puts me to shame. “Mom, lets not get presents for Christmas, lets send the money to orphans.” And because he knows that finances are a struggle for us when stopping for ice cream, “You get some mom, I can eat when I get home.” (I don’t think so!) He knows more about the “truth about life” than I do. And I think I know a lot. A sample of his photography – all done with an inexpensive camera: (PLEASE DO NOT USE WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION!) And he likes to set the camera on a timer and do crazy selfies because he loves to laugh. He loves to have fun. He loves Taekwondo, youth group, and “PT.” There are the self portraits that mom likes too. The ones I look at think about how fortunate I am to have him for my son. Out of the millions of orphans in the world, God gave me this one. No longer an orphan, but my son. He is the greatest, deepest, most sensitive, loving, compassionate fifteen year old boy who I know. He helps me around the house – a lot. I call him my Benjamin – the son of my “old age.” He is the kind of kid that if he sees me crying – if he knows something has happened – I find the dishes done and little jobs cleaned up. He tries to make it better. I don’t appreciate him near enough. I yell when I should show Mercy. I discipline when I should show grace. I fear his future more than I trust God. I need to rest in the fact that adoption into our family was not his greatest gift – it is not the thing that “saved” him from a life of pain, maybe the streets, or worse. It was adoption into God’s family, into His house that has saved Him. God has his back. He never fails. It is my job to live for Him. It is my job to point Sam to Him by my life. It is my job to teach Sam forgiveness by example, love by example, grace and mercy by example. And yet, I find when it comes to my relationship with Samuel, I am more the student than the teacher. Thank you Sam for being in our lives. Thank you Jesus for this gift of life. One son was taken from my arms to live with Jesus before I could know him; but another son was given from the arms of a woman to live with me. Happy Birthday (6/14/99)Samuel Miras Grubb, I love you. The shadow was “pierced” when you came into our lives.