Jaxon has been home for just over a year now. This picture was taken the day we met him. I know for Matt and I were were so nervous. While we waited for Jaxon to arrive we were talking about whether or not to shake his hand, hug him, or just stand back and give a little wave. I remember at one point, I told Matt that I thought I was going to be sick because I was so nervous. This was a whole new journey we were about to embark on.
With all the emotions Matt and I were feeling, I can't even begin to imagine how Jaxon was feeling and thinking. When I look at this picture, I see a terrified, young man. I see bravery, and courage like no other. I see fear.
I used to love looking at this picture. This was taken while we were still in China, and I it was probably the first "real" smile we got from Jaxon. This was the picture I carried in my wallet, because of the smile. It took alot for him to feel comfortable enough to smile. We didn't get many smiles in the beginning and if we did, we had to beg for them.
This next picture was taken shortly after we got home. We didn't get a whole lot of smiles in the beginning. The ones we did see, were only because he didn't know we were looking. When Jaxon would be outside playing with the other kids, I would stand at the kitchen window and take pictures from the inside. I didn't want him to see me with the camera because I knew if he did, he would stop and come in.
In the fall we had our family pictures updated. We were planning on doing it anyway, but needed to for our updated dossier for Keliah. This smile was a little easier to come by. Jaxon definitely doesn't like to be the center of attention so having a photo shoot where he was the only one in the picture was a little awkward for him I am sure. But, I think it turned out okay, and he seemed pleased with it at the time.
This picture is by far, my favorite picture of Jaxon. This was just taken over Memorial Day weekend at the lake, so a little over a year later from the first picture. I definitely don't see any fear or nerves in the picture. He truly looks happy, he looks comfortable, he looks like he belongs in our family. This is a genuine, uncoaxed smile, which is something we see more and more of each and every day.
This past year has been full of so many emotions for everyone involved. I will be the first to admit that Matt and I were terrified of adopting an older child, especially a boy. But there was just something about his picture that gave me a sense of peace. I would look at his referral picture over and over and "know" that everything was going to be okay. I know that most of our family and friends thought we were crazy, and completely out of our minds for adopting Jaxon. But I cannot imagine our family without him. He is an awesome, awesome, kid.
We have good times and bad, but more good than bad. In the beginning there were several times that we were all in tears. He would say he thought he made a mistake in coming here, and we would do everything to show him that he hadn't. In the beginning I don't think actually, I am certain he wasn't sure if this was his permanent home or not. We spent several months assuring him over and over that no matter what, he was here to stay.
A few months after being home Jaxon and I were out somewhere together one day and he began to share with me his story, his background. Obviously that is something I will not be sharing, but I can definitely tell you that the word "courage" has a new meaning to me.
One of the things that I have wanted more than anything was for Jaxon to call me "mom." He has called Matt "dad" a few times, but I usually get a tap on the shoulder or a "hey." He has always referred to us as mom and dad with the other kids, but never directly addresses me as mom. I knew it would come with time, and was actually preparing myself that he would never call me or really see me as his mom. But on Easter Sunday, as I was making breakfast for everyone, I over heard Matt tell Jaxon, Blake and Emma to tell me thank you for their Easter baskets. I had my back turned to them. Blake came in first with a "thanks mom." Then Emma with a peppy "thank you mom." And then Jaxon with a low, mumbled, "thanks mom." I absolutely could not believe it. I was definitely not expecting it and had to do everything I could not to break down in the middle of the kitchen in tears. I had waited almost a year to hear that on little word from him, and honestly didn't know how to react. I did know, not to make a big deal about it. I just said "you're welcome" and continued scrambling the eggs, but I can tell you my heart was bursting inside.
Matt and I talked to several other families that had adopted older children, especially boys before we brought Jaxon home. We heard many different stories. We heard the good, the bad, and unfortunately, the ugly. We had prepared ourselves for the worst, and even discussed our breaking point if we were getting in over our heads. We knew Jaxon was our son, and were prepared to do whatever it took to make him feel that as well.
This past year has been full of goods and bads, but I think we would all, including Jaxon agree, that he is our son, and fits perfectly into our family. He is such a good kid. I remember when we were in China and Blake was back talking Matt. Matt looked at Jaxon and told him (though the translator) that he couldn't wait until he was comfortable enough to talk back to him. Well, that day came not too long ago, and as mad as it made both of us, behind closed doors we were relieved. I know it sounds ridiculous that we would welcome our child to talk back, but for us, it is a sign that Jaxon is feeling like he is truly a part of the family.
As I look back on this past year in pictures, the transformation with Jaxon is tremendous. I can only imagine what the next year will bring.
A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you're at home. ~Author Unknown