We adopted our sons from Ethiopia 2 years apart.  Mikias was 4 and Jemberu was 3.  If you know anything about them, their background or how they came to be ours, you might be tempted to tell me they are lucky boys.  I understand your urge to do that, but I don't want you to.

If there is one thing adoptive parents almost universally dislike, is being told that their children are lucky.

A series of events has to occur before an adoption takes place, many of them are sad and painful, none of them lucky.

Our boys lost a lot to become ours.  They lost their birth families and communities that loved and nurtured them. They lost their culture, their language and being a part of a world where almost everyone was like them.  They have no baby pictures, they will never know when they took their first steps or what their first words were.  They will never hear the story of the night (or day) that they were born. The only thing that they have from the lives they left behind is their names.

 They rode in a car, probably for the first time in their lives, to go to an orphanage. I often think of their of their first night there, where everything and everyone who was familiar was gone.  I feel completely unglued, imagining the pain and confusion they must have felt.  They were little boys, not babies, they were scared and grieving for their loved ones.

After adjusting to new caregivers and new friends at the orphanage, they had to leave that world behind too.  They went with complete strangers, with skin, hair and features unlike anyone who had loved and cared for them before.  These strangers spoke a language they didn't understand and took them to a new world so different it may as well have been another planet.  They would never again be like all of their friends, they  stand out in their new family and at times people stare at them and make comments that make them feel uncomfortable and different.

So look at my boys and please don't tell me how lucky they are.  Tell me they are resilient and strong.  Tell me they are amazing and beautiful.  Go ahead and tell me I have my hands full (if I had a dollar for every time I  heard that....) and then look me in the eye and tell me I am lucky.  I will enthusiastically agree.