~ Welcome, to the third story in our BeYOUtiful Mom Series!~
Featured Writer: Cyndi Maloy
“MOM!” After four children, hearing my name (or what the children think my name is) being screamed hysterically from the other side of the house doesn’t really phase me. Usually, it means someone has violated someone else’s space, or changed someone else’s Facebook status, or borrowed someone else’s clothing without permission (even if said item of clothing was dug out from under the bed where it had been for SIX MONTHS and the child had forgotten she even owned it…), or any number of “sibling violations” that occur on an hourly basis in our house. So in this case, I finished what I was doing and headed in the general direction of the screamer. I came around the corner to find Patrick sitting on the couch sobbing…and Charlie, our Golden Retriever, STARING at him. Patrick hates it when Charlie stares at him…and I’m convinced Charlie knows this. It’s hard to discipline an 80 pound dog who isn’t really doing anything, and equally difficult to reassure a hysterical eight year old that Charlie doesn’t really mean it. Especially when I’m laughing so hard I can’t breathe. I’m cool like that.
Patrick is my fourth child. He’s nine years younger than his closest sibling. We adopted him from Ecuador, where we moved in 2004. He’s beautiful, smart, funny, spoiled rotten…and loved beyond measure. Making the decision to bring him into our family was not difficult—from the moment we brought him home, he just fit. He was 8 months old, he weighed 11 pounds, and he was perfect. I figured I had this mothering thing down—three older children, right? They were fairly civilized and relatively well-adjusted, which of COURSE had to be because of my exemplary mothering skills. I naturally assumed that everyone knew this and would never DREAM of questioning my parenting. Then I found myself having conversations like the following on a street corner, with a total stranger.
Random Ecuadorian lady (REL): “Oh, he’s so cute! But he should have more clothes on! (It was about 80 degrees out). Where are his blanket and his hat?”
Me: “Thank you, and he’s fine, really. He gets too warm if he’s wearing too many clothes.”
REL: “Oh no. He must have on more clothes. It’s very dangerous if he doesn’t.”
Me: (Through clenched teeth) “Señora, I have three other children. Really, I know what I’m doing.”
REL: “Yes, but this is an ECUADORIAN baby. He’s different.”
The social worker handling the case asked me if we were going to tell him he’s adopted. He’s a black-eyed, black-haired little brown boy in a family full of pasty white gringos. Don’t you think he’ll notice? (She then proceeded to tell me that she really thought he looked just like Dan. Uh. Yeah.) I’ve been asked if he speaks Chachi (his tribal language that he left when he was four months old), if he speaks Spanish even though he lives in an English speaking home, and if he can understand the world around him since everything is so “different” where he’s from. *sigh*
Patrick has some physical challenges and some learning issues, although we as a family have chosen not to focus on them. They don’t change the essence of who he is, although he isn’t above using them to get his own way…or at least trying! We see him as the gift from God that he is, just the same as our other children. When he first came home to us, I found myself reticent to “love” him. I thought about it long and hard and finally realized that it was simply because I was so afraid that someone would show up and take him away from me. I was guarding my heart. It didn’t last for very long, and I soon realized that he was one of my children, as surely as if I had given birth to him. I love him with everything in me.