Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Journeys Mapped in Heaven

She set the steaming bowl of rice before the little boy and went back to the kitchen to retrieve the rest of his dinner. He stared at it with large eyes, his thin arms began to tremble. He looked up at his new daddy.

“Do you want to eat first?” he asked.

“We’ll eat together after we say grace,” I said.

He looked back down at the rice. Hesitantly he put his hands around it.

“Do you want the first bite?”

“No thanks, Mommy will bring me my own.”

He started to shake.

“This is for me? All of it?”

He couldn’t believe that the food was all for him, that no one was going to take it away.


He sat in the tub and I came in to give him his first bath in our home. I wanted to make him feel that everything that had happened to him before was being washed away.

I grabbed the large plastic cup and dipped it into the water. I put my hand on his shoulder and raised the water over his head.

“Close your eyes.”

He looked up at me with a false grin and terror in his eyes. There was something terribly wrong. His arms were rigid. His legs straight and stiff. He looked at me and I could see the strain of trying to please me and fear of what may happen play across his face.

I washed his hair, explaining to him how to get the shampoo through his nappy hair. I washed his arms, showing him how to get the wash cloth saturated with soap and how to keep it away from his eyes.

I washed his feet, and some of his legs, but as the cloth swept up toward his waist he become rigid and the false grin returned.

I wanted to make the bath some sort of ritual of cleansing and new beginnings, but he didn’t trust me enough yet. I had him show me he could rub the wash cloth well enough and explained to him how he had to wash everywhere. I left him to his privacy.


It was just a couple of days after they boys came to live with us. I thought I’d try horsing around with them like my father did with me when I was five. I hugged them, tried to get them to wrestle. They just didn’t get it. I lifted them up in the air and swung them around. Jeremiah started crying and got a nose bleed though he never bumped his nose on anything. I set him down on the couch and rushed to get some toilet paper.

As his new mommy comforted him and I could hear him say: “Daddy hurt me.”


We couldn’t seem to get their hair picked out right. It hurt them despite the conditioners we rubbed into their scalps. So I bought some electric shears and tried to give them haircuts. That first time was a total loss. It takes practice to learn how to do it right. One side would get uneven and I would go over it again to smooth it out. Then they would shift or twitch or flinch, and the shears would dip too low, and I’d start going over it again.

After a frustrating 45 minutes I just put the clippers to the scalp and ran it over the whole head. It was summer anyway.

Once the curls had fallen around the stool I saw the marks. There were scars running across his poor scalp. There were little dents where the bone beneath showed a dip or lump. Terrible things had happened to this boy’s head.


There are more stories. Some hint at or reveal other terrible things that this boy has experienced. But I wish to share just one more story, one with a different ending.


We were sitting at dinner, talking about school pictures and how there are few pictures from before they came to live with us. Brenda ran to her hope chest to get their passports, containing the earliest pictures we have of our boys.

We passed them around. There is a look of terror in the boys’ eyes. We can only guess at the horrors reflected in those eyes. They don’t know why they are posing for those pictures, that this photo is a step toward taking them out of Haiti.

I examined the places they had been, the times and dates and notations. There was the customs stamp showing when they left their birth country. The time and date struck me.

At the exact moment they were boarding a plane from that awful place I know what I was doing.

I was sitting on my couch, the sun was coming up. A new day, a new beginning. I hadn’t slept all night. I wasn’t sure what I should be doing. I had gotten up early the morning before to feed our baby. He died later that morning. As the dark of night turned into the dark of a day of grieving I sat numb. All my dreams of what I would teach my child, all the years I had foreseen, all ashes. I felt like my heart was breaking, like it was some living thing beating loud and strangely in my chest. I felt that it would ache forever. It didn’t seem that I would ever smile again, that I would every be able to love a child again.

3,400 miles away two small, frightened boys were being ushered onto a plane. They were leaving all they had ever known.

I wasn’t ready for new children. They weren’t ready for a new daddy. But He was moving Heaven and Earth. He was preparing me and He was preparing them.

I love those boys fiercely. I kiss their heads each night (even though they are in high school). I lay my hands on them and I pray blessings into them, and I lay them on the altar of my heart before the LORD constantly.

Whatever challenges they bring to my home, it is because He has given me that task to do. Therefore I cannot fail. He works His Will through me. His grace is sufficient.


Lillee said...

I really really love this post.

Anonymous said...

that touched my heart. whatever you're going through, God is there with you. He knows.

God bless.

David said...

And those boys landed in the spot HE chose for them to be and what a good spot that is.

Anonymous said...

CS, Thanks for sharing your life with us, the 2 of you have very big hearts, God loves you very much! Group hug (((())))

MMM said...

oh, i wish i could hug you all....

Bad Alice said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Your love and tenderness shows through in your writing. God is working amazing things through you and your family.

ellen said...

God bless all of you.

bjk said...

His Plan.....His timing....but oh the pain for all of you.....

I laid in bed last nite and prayed for all of's as if HE gives me a picture of you....but my prayers don't need it because all of us are praying Romans 8:26 prayers for you....and will continue to do so....

Lorna said...

oh oh oh

:( and :)

my heart was with you as you bathed your son, as you said goodbye to your firstborn, as you ran for tissues to stem the nose bleed, and as you looked at the photos and the dates in the passport

the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be His name ALWAYS.

May He continue to bless you richly

Carolyn said...

wow ... wow

4evergapeach said...

Sad, touching, many emotions, but above all..Love. Love you have for those boys, Love you have for God, and the Love He has for all of you. This is what has seen you through and will continue to carry you all the days of your life.

May He continue to bless you with abundant riches!

Anonymous said...

cs, what pain & joy & hope & compassion & indignity live in your heart to help make you the incredible human being, man of God, father, husband, friend that you

mamagiglio said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog because you led me to yours!

I'll be praying for you family. you and your wife have a beautiful family.

St. Ignatuis of Loyola once said, "If God allows you many trials, it means that He has great designs for you and He surely intends to make you a saint." PLease hang in there. It is normal to feel far away from God the closer you try to get. It is also indicative that one is growing closer to the LORD if one feels the interference of the evil one. The evil one hates to lose...
Peace be with you.

Regina Clare Jane said...

Yes, thanks for visiting me as well, cs. I was very touched by this story as my two older brothers are adopted and had been through some terrible times beforehand... how my parents must have felt and yearned to make all their hurts better...

T. F. Stern said...

Sounds like your heart and mind are in the right place.

pecheur said...

Thanks for stopping by at my place. What a story!! And what wonderful pictures of the Father who never likes to see us get our hair in a mess. but who hopes to help even though it may hurt both.

JeffGeorgia said...

What an amazing writer you are. I wish I could express myself as wonderful as you have. I got your response for intercessory prayer for your hand on my blog (StillJewish) and I will. If I hear something from the Lord I will contact you. Can you please send me your Name and email address to

One thing that comes to my mind when I just prayed for you is this:
That the Love of G-d will be poured overflowingly through you when you are in step with Him. It is when we deny ourself and do the work of the Lord, He heals us and touches the person also in our path - a double blessing. Keep moving onward and upward Christian soldier.

Shalom alechim "Peace with you",

annie said...

I don't believe there is any greater pain than the longing for our children to be whole. I am so sorry for the loss of your firstborn.

May the grace of God bind you all together as a family and continue to sustain you in the dark times when all seems to be for nought. His grace truly is sufficient.

Lucy Stern said...

We never know what Heavenly Father has in store for us. Your little one that passed on is with his Heavenly Father and he is waiting for you to come someday. In the mean time the Lord needed you to take care of and love two little boys. They are special and they needed you and your wife to give them a better life. The Lord will bless you for taking them in and loving them as if they were your own. They actually are your own now.

Take care and thank the Lord for they many blessing that you have.

Kc said...

I can only hope my prayers somehow help to strengthen and support you and yours as much as your story serves to humble me.

Minka said...

Wow, what inspiration. I am sure you are a great dad to those kids. God bless you, but I think he already has!

wilsonian said...

I've cried reading through this twice now...

Much I'd like to say, but can't find the words. What an amazing gift your boys have been given. Not many have their image of father restored on this side of heaven.

Praying for you, gentle warrior.

Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY! » »