We've known for sometime that we would more than likely meet with Max's birth family. I wasn't too nervous until I found out that THEY were taking US out to dinner and it wasn't gonna be McDonalds. I began to worry about what to wear, what to say and...........what am I gonna eat. If you know me even just a little bit you may say that I am a tad picky when it comes to food. However, Chinese food seems to be the one thing that I don't mind trying things with. In fact, Chinese food is about my favorite. But, you and I both know that the fancier and more expensive the food, the stranger it gets. Now I know, that as I explain this food that most of you will not find it strange which means that you may be strange yourself. Because seriously, you can't go wrong with beef, cheese and potatoes. It comes in several forms and you can get it just about anywhere. Anyway, I was worried about the food. I don't particularly like seafood. I can eat some fish but I don't like strong fishy tastes. For example: Long John Silver? Yes! Red Lobster? No! Captain Ds? Yes! Joes Crab Shack? No! Fried Catfish? Yes! Fried Shrimp? No! There are a few things in this world that I just pretty much refuse to eat/drink. Four of those are: shrimp, mayonnaise, sushi, and wine. I've tried them all from time to time and just don't like the taste and pretty much can't stand the taste. I'm trying to not offend Maddox's birth grandfather that is treating us to this meal so I may have to step out a little from my food comfort zone. We sit down for the meal and the first thing that is put out is Sushi and it is offered to me first while everyone eagerly awaits my response. So I refused.........in my head............and with my right hand picked up my chopsticks and picked up what had to be the biggest piece because I couldn't get the little ones because of these skinny black plastic sticks that the Eastern world insists on eating with are just impossible to work when you're nervous. Then Max's birth grandfather pops the cork on a bottle of red wine and motioned to me. It's okay though because I took classes in High School and I know how to say no to peer pressure. So I handed him my glass. (I actually thought maybe the twang of the wine would keep me from gagging on the sushi.) So we are into the meal about 5 minutes and I only have 2 of the things that I, as a general rule, refuse to eat. Then they bring out what is translated to us as a curry soup. I'm pretty sure it had every sea creature known to man in this soup. I didn't eat a bunch. Then fried rice which was a life saver because I piled it on top of the sushi and it did keep me from tossing my cookies. Then.......then.....yep you guessed it........fried shrimp topped with none other than a mayo based cream. I've already stepped way over my comfort level with food so it stands to reason that I will pass on this one, right? Not a chance in the world. My head was just not working right and no, I only had like 4 small sips of the wine so it wasn't the alcohol making the decisions. So, I have all this food on my plate that I normally refuse to eat and I have a glass of wine to the top right of the plate. I'm very uncomfortable but who isn't at this point? Normally at this point my sarcastic humor takes over and gets me out of or deeper into the mess I've created. However, only a select few speak my language so it's a no go on the jokes. A few minutes earlier, I spoke to our two oldest children and told them they "better not gag". At this point I am seeing how unfair of a rule that is but if they can do it I guess I can too. I almost gagged on the sushi but I held it in, literally, and made it through and then got lots more rice and noodles. They brought out something fried (which I found out later was oysters) with some type of red peppers. I thought to myself, "Oh yeah! Give me a pepper that will take some of this taste out of my mouth!". I mistakenly thought that it couldn't be any hotter than what I'm used to. It was the hottest pepper I've ever eaten and I had no drink besides wine to wash it down and extinguish the fire. At this point I felt like I would draw attention to myself if I downed the wine so I began to sweat profusely and started searching for more rice. I ate more rice last night than I 1have combined in all the rest of my life. Food crisis conquered but please don't ask me to do this again, God.
There is no way possible for mere human words to explain the emotions associated with this evening. I don't know exactly what I had in mind but this was not at all what I expected. As we arrived, before we entered the restaurant, Max's grandmother took him and his grandfather took Mia. They both did okay but as soon as we got to the room where we were eating Mia jumped back in my arms and squeezed tight. They sat Maddox in a high chair across the big round table from us. He was between his birth great-grandmother and his birth mother. It only lasted for a short time before Kate had to go pick him up to console him. I know many of you might think that to be a victory for us, but you don't understand. Yes, it felt good that he needed his mom. It felt good that he stopped crying when Kate picked him up but yet my heart still ached. This isn't about who Max loves more or who loves him more because without a doubt God loves him the most and I pray he will love God the most. This isn't about rescuing him from some terrible unloving family. Actually, as I sat there contemplating all of the commotion I realized that I don't even know yet what this is all about. I realize its all about God but I just don't know what He has planned. These people obviously love Maddox dearly. They wept, they laughed, they hugged him, they kissed him, and genuinely showed a deep care for him. They were extremely nice to us and did everything they could do to make us comfortable and happy. They extended to us an open invitation to come stay with them at anytime. At one point I was having a side conversation with the grandfather and he through an interpreter expressed his deep gratitude for us taking Maddox into our family. I replied through the interpreter that we were the ones that were forever grateful to have him as our son. He then teared up and said he was embarrassed for me to say that. This is not a very good description of events but my heart and head are still trying to process all of it and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to. At this point, it is difficult to think about it without becoming very emotional. Writing about it helps, but I assure you these words come nowhere near doing justice to this God-awesome-event. I hurt for Maddox's birth family. I in no way think that Maddox is not our child because he is (just watch him with Kate and you know without a doubt)! However, I will be praying for them often. I pray that their pain is eased because I've been through the pain of losing a son. I pray that they find God--not the one or ones they may worship now, but the one true living God that loves them so much that He lost His son that He might gain them.
---written by Jason---
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