It was his smile that did me in.
From the moment I met him, I was captured. Beautiful eyes, warm smile, toddling steps.
I laughed out loud when he toddled through the hallways of the orphanage, giggling and squealing. I cried when he fell asleep on my lap during the orphanage devotions – arms and legs splayed wide. Even though it was four and a half years ago, I remember that night with crystal clarity. I set my hand on his little chest and prayed over his life – asking God to meet him, protect him, make him into the man he was meant to be.
We nearly lost Laurentz several times – when his mom changed her mind, when illness almost took him, when he was taken from the orphanage and our adoption process halted.
We talked of holding him with open hands – trusting that whatever happened, God had him – but the truth was our hearts were already woven together. When bad news came, the pain was deep. Holding on lightly wasn’t really an option. We were all in, no matter what lie ahead.
He was our son.
Today, Laurentz is home. He’s been home for six months. He is our strong, brave boy with big muscles – as we tell him and he is quick to affirm. He is our superhero in a six year old body. An artist, he draws people with a head and legs, no torso. He has drawn our family a hundred times. “This is you, Mommy, and this is Daddy…” he’ll draw some of his brothers and sisters and even throw in Kenya, our golden retriever puppy.
He loves his family.
And he loves horses. He is our Haitian cowboy who wears a cowboy hat and spins a lasso to catch his pretend baby calf. We’ve never seen a calf being roped, but that hasn’t stopped him. He knows what he wants to do.
We signed him up for therapeutic horseback riding and he loves his horse – Thor. He sits straight and tall, walks the course and talks to his horse. “Whoa!” “Walk on, Thor.”
Because as he was taught, when a young cowboy wants to get his horse to go, he says, “Walk on…”
Laurentz has had a rough go of things. His early years were far from stable. He’s lost more than most and love was elusive. He knew hunger and fear. He knew loneliness and pain. I can’t fix those things, but I can wrap my arms around him today. I can hold him fast and cuddle him close. I can give him a thousand kisses and then give him a thousand more. I can tuck him in at night and pray for him through the day. I can feed him yummy food and throw in ice cream with sprinkles on movie night. I can play catch with him and cheer him on. The other night, we tossed a baseball back and forth. “Good catch, Laurentz!” I said. One time, he caught it and I didn’t say anything. “You have to say ‘Good catch’ every time, Mommy,” he said as he tossed it to me. I caught it. “Good catch, Mommy!”
So we did it. Back and forth. “Good catch, Son!” “Good catch, Mom!” Over and over and over again.
I don’t know what the future holds for Laurentz. What highs and lows and in-betweens lie ahead for him. But my prayer is that he will be like his strong horse, Thor. That he will heed the voice of his master, that he’ll hold his head high, that he’ll whoa when he needs to whoa, and walk on when it’s time to go. It’s the same thing I want for all my kids. The same thing I want for me. That under my master’s strong and loving hand, I would walk on, that they would walk on trusting the master’s lead – with joy, hope, life, love, laughter, expectation – to whatever lies ahead.
So walk on, Laurentz.
Walk on, Savannah, Wilna and Lovence.
Walk on Sean, Jessica, Cassie and Sam.
Walk on me.
Walk on you.
Let’s do this. Let’s trust the master’s lead and walk on….