Jemberu often makes statements to me that he knows are not true. Most of them start with variations of "Remember when I grew in your belly.." or "Remember when I was a baby.." My response goes something like, "Honey, you know I wasn't your Mumma when you were a baby". Which leads him to say, 'Just pretend'. Then we imagine what he was like together.
I tell him that I am sure he was a beautiful baby, and that his Ethiopian parents must have been so happy to hold him in their arms. We talk about how his name means 'sunset' because that is when he was born. We talk about how sick his Ethiopian mom was and how it must have helped her feel better to have had such a wonderful baby boy to love. Sometime we imagine his first smile or what his baby talk must have sounded like.
Recently he added a new twist to the conversation by asking if I wished he had grown in my belly. I told him that if he had, he wouldn't be him and that that was something I couldn't imagine. "No Mumma...I mean do you wish that I grew in your belly? Me..like this (pointing to himself)" I answered by telling him that yes, I wish I had known him every minute of his life.
What I said was true. And not true. I think about the years we missed out on with Mikias and Jemberu. There are no baby pictures. I have no idea when they took their first steps. I know there was hunger. I know there was sadness and terrible loss. I also know they came to us as amazing, strong, loving boys who were shaped by the lives they had, and by the people who loved them before we did. It took the combination of their Ethiopian parents' genes and the love of people, most of whom we will never know, that made our boys perfectly and wonderfully....them.
It is true that I wish I hadn't missed a minute of knowing them. It is also true that I think we became a family at exactly the right time and that I will never miss a minute from here on.