Saturday, March 29, 2008

What a difference a year makes...

After posting my last set of photos, Anita left a comment about how different Peanut looks now compared to when she met him a year ago. After thinking about it a little bit, I realized that it has indeed been a year (pretty much exactly) since she was in Ghana working to set up the AAI Ghana program and where she worked to bring the first 6 kids into AAI's care. Jellybean and Peanut were 2 of those first 6 kids. My next impulse was to open up those first photos we received of the boys (their intake photos). Oh my word! They are not the same boys at all!!

When I was with my family for Easter I talked to my mom and my sis-in-law about how I used to stare at photos for what seemed like hours at a time trying to determine any possible tidbits about their personalities from the photos. I looked for smirks, smiles, body language, and twinkles in their eyes in every one of their photos. I wanted so badly to KNOW my sons, to understand what they would be like and who they were so that I could be prepared to be their mom. However, I rarely spent much time gazing at those first photos we received, because they were simply too sad to look at for long. I knew that the little boys in those photos needed parents, they needed love, they needed some extra attention, and (quite frankly) they needed some food.

We were unbelievably blessed with photos of our boys during their time at AAI's Eban House. Volunteers traveled to do some work, Anita traveled, other parents traveled and the staff at Eban House would send photos to Anita (which she would pass on to us). We truly have a ton of photos of our boys (and the other 4 of the first 6 kids), which is a tremendous blessing to us. But to be honest, when I look at those photos now (those photos that I stared at for hours before the boys came home) I barely even recognize them. Sure, I KNOW its Jellybean and Peanut...and I recognize certain looks and expressions....but now I really do know these boys and I know that their personalities are so much bigger than what could ever be captured by those photographs (even with having lots of photos).

Lots of the photos of Peanut we received showed him being pretty sad. I worried about him...I wondered if he was ok, if he was getting the love he needed to come out of his shell a bit. I wondered if he was always going to be sad. These days I look at him and rarely see that sad face. Instead, I see big toothy smiles, funny faces, and mischievous grins. Wow...what a change in one year's time!

Here are those early photos...the photos that are so sad to me...the ones that were taken when they were processed to enter the orphanage.

Poor little boys with big bellies.....

My little Jellybean and Peanut. Neither one of my boys has those big bellies anymore. Medicine and good nutrition have taken care of that. These days Peanut brags about his big belly when he eats a lot of pancakes or fried rice (his two most favorite foods).
And here is a photo of my Jellybean and Peanut today. Pretty big change, no?

Our two boys are not the only big change that has happened in the last year, though. AAI's Ghana program has evolved over this short time and many other families have been blessed by it. As of today, there are about 20 families in the program and 4 families that have completed adoptions and have their children home. Two more families are traveling (either now or very soon) to bring their children home. Just yesterday I learned of two new referrals in the program. More children who need families are finding families and that is something to be very excited about. The hard work that Anita and the rest of the staff at AAI (here in the U.S. and in Ghana) are doing is paying off in a big way. Z and I joined the program at its infancy and it has been such a joy to watch it grow and grow. Our boys are beneficiaries of a new program starting at the right time in the right place. I am so thankful that AAI took the chance to try something new and worked so hard to get things going. One year....and look where we've come!


Thankfulmom said...

These photos of your children are amazing!


Stacie said...

Oh my goodness - what a change! It is truly amazing!