Dawit has grown eight inches in two years.
It could be a term in the House of Representatives or a prison sentence for a minor felony. In two years, you can even get an Associates Degree.
But I think my last two years have been as eventful as any of those options.
Two years ago, we woke up with a new child.
It wasn’t quite that easy.
For more than two years, my wife and I prepared paperwork, jumped through bureaucratic hoops and finally received an emailed photo of a little boy who would soon be ours.
Eight months later, he was officially ours.
We had arrived in Ethiopia after a 30-hour journey on a Friday. On Saturday, we shopped for the orphanages and guesthouses that many of our friends and family had sent money and supplies to support.
On Saturday, June 26, 2011, we were going to finally get to take custody of Dawit. We were told to expect him between noon and 5 p.m.
A sleepless night is not uncommon for jetlagged travelers. When you add the excitement of having a four-year old join the family, sleep is even harder to come by.
We did finally fall asleep around 5 a.m. after a sleepless night of talking about what the next day would hold.
At about 9 a.m., we were awakened by a knock at our door. My wife answered the door to have a guesthouse worker tell us that our son was here.
We made a mad dash around the room to get ourselves and Blake dressed and try to get cameras ready. It was almost exactly the opposite of how we imagined it would be.
We made it upstairs in minutes and Dawit was on the lap of the head of the adoption program for our agency. When he asked Dawit if he wanted to stay with us, Dawit shook his head no.
Blake came to the rescue. He ran downstairs and got the teddy bear and some snacks we had brought for Dawit. With Blake sitting next to him and crackers and cheese in one hand and the bear in the other, Dawit decided he would give us a chance.
When Dawit was relinquished to the orphanage, he was a sick little boy battling pneumonia and significant malnourishment.
His recovery began in the orphanage. He stabilized physically but it was a tough year for him because he couldn’t understand workers or most other kids in the orphanage because he spoke a different dialect than they did.
When he first came with us, he endured another major change. But Dawit is as resilient as he is ornery.
His language skills have been honed through two years of preschool. Emotionally, he is strong and sweet. He loves to help his mom clean up and he has a lot of friends from church, school and sports. He has played soccer and tee ball now.
He loves fresh fruit and vegetables and will eat a salad with every meal he can.
And he is no runt. We have often joked about getting him a t-shirt that says, “I beat malnutrition.”
Dawit has grown eight inches in two years and has improved from the second percentile to the seventy-seventh on growth charts.
Those stats are important and show some of his growth. But his advancement from a four-year old with very limited English to a six-year old ready for kindergarten is another example of his growth.
But watching him become a part of our family has been the most incredible development.
Thanks to obvious racial differences, Dawit will never be that teenager who finally realizes he was adopted. He was four when he left Ethiopia. He knows.
But so far, it has had no effects on him emotionally. He knows he came into the family differently than Blake did but he also knows that he is our son and – other than skin color – there is no difference between him and Blake.
He loves his brother and cousins and seems to be pretty happy about where life has brought him.
He isn’t scared of dogs anymore and he is finally beginning to understand that this is permanent and not just another stop along his long, difficult journey.
These two years have flown by. The memories of our “gotcha” day are so vivid, it is hard to believe it has been two years.
But when you see how far he has come and how far our family has come with him, you know it has been time well spent.
I can wait to see what the next two years has in store for us all.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org