A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for times of adversity. – Prov. 17:17
After 23 hours of travel, I turned my phone back on as the plane taxied to the gate. Within seconds my phone rang, “Are you here?” my friend Allen asked. He was picking us up in a large passenger van he picked up from the rental lot for us earlier in the day. My brother Travis should be waiting also with his truck to move our luggage. Allen asked me to give him a 30 second warning prior to exiting the terminal. He said there were a few folks waiting for us.
Our kids emerged one by one from their various rows on the plane. We were excited to be back in North Carolina. Some groggy. One son had to be shaken awake; he stumbled toward the door. Then the text messages started pinging. Same line of enquiry: where are you? Let us know when you’re close to leaving the terminal. There are a few folks here …
To depart Terminal 2 at RDU, you climb a flight of stairs and walk down a long partitioned hallway, about 50 yards long and emerge at a “meeting place” and a Starbucks. After the obligatory airport bathroom ordeal with ten children, we thanked God for our passage, sent the warning text, and ascended the stairs to exit.
We walked about ten yards down the hall and heard them before we saw anything. It sounded like the vuvuzelas common to southern hemisphere soccer games, but maybe an octave higher pitch. Exiting passengers further ahead looked back, scanning the crowd and grinning.
There was a horde waiting for us. A wonderful, beautiful throng of family and friends, cheering and hooting. It wasn’t vuvuzelas; it was at least a dozen children running around with birthday whistles blowing as loud as they could. My brother estimated there were somewhere between one hundred to two hundred people. Our children were stunned. Our youngest adopted son was overwhelmed. I found him and he rested his face against my shoulder. I would like to say that I was overwhelmed, but I was too tired.
For three weeks, Lesley and I had counted to ten repeatedly throughout the days, counting to make sure we had all the children with us. In the past 23 hours, together we probably counted the kids dozens of times as we travelled through several airports. Now, everyone was lost in the crowd. After the first ten minutes of hugging and embracing, I realized I had no idea where any of our kids were in this crowd. I didn’t even know where Lesley was. It did not matter. We were home, with friends. We were absorbed into a giant human love sponge.
On the ride from the airport, I felt great. Home is so much more than a place. It is where you belong. It occurred to me that this is a glimpse of what our real homecoming one day will be like. Surrounded not just by the people of God, but in the presence of the author of life Himself.
Our friends were telling us something much more than welcome home. They were celebrating the new lives added to our family. They celebrated our adoption. They celebrated the wonderful gift of life. His people love life. We “get” adoption, particularly those of us that have been close to it. Adoption is a celebration of the new family, but for believers, it is also a celebration and reflection of the eternal father’s adoption of His children, of those that have placed their faith in His son. Each one of us is adopted.
Sometimes God is not subtle. His holding us up along this way has been so clear in ways big and small. Even symbolically. As our friends arrived at the airport to greet us, a giant rainbow showed over the airport. Several friends said that as they approached, the rainbow appeared to end at our terminal.
It is good to be home. The children are doing really well. In our travels and at home, God has abundantly provided. He continues to make the way smooth before us. He strengthens and encourages us, particularly through his people. We are grateful for and continue to covet your prayers. It is humbling. Please keep praying!
There’s still some adjusting. Our youngest daughter still doesn’t really get “America.” When we pull into our neighborhood, she still yells “America!” We returned to the start of soccer season, homeschool, co-op and a busy work schedule. We have little idea of how to figure out the new “normal.” But God is clearly providing, one day at a time. Last night, our “middle” adoptive son proudly recited John 3:16 to us. Last December, he hardly spoke a single word of English.
God is great.