It’s hard to think that Eli has almost been home with us now for 2 years. In May, when he turns 4, he will have been with us longer than he has been without us. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine what life was like before he came home.
Eli adjusted well. I mean crazy well. We didn’t have any real horror stories. When I got off the plane with him in my arms, he cried the first time Amanda held him, but 5 minutes later, he has been absolutely attached to his mommy. The first night he only woke up one time probably due to jet lag or some of his medical conditions. Mom, who he had been around only a few hours at that point, went in to console him, and he went back to sleep easily. And that’s all the sleep issues we have had. Naps great and sleeps great. Potty trained in 20 hours. The kid is a stud.
But even with all those successes, there was one thing that always concerned me about Eli.
I always go check on the boys one more time before going to sleep. As I check the temperature, cover them up, remove an arsenal of stuffed animals, and pray over them, I try to remain undetected. With Obadiah, that has always been easy. I can pick him up, spin him around, and throw water on his face and I don’t think he would wake up. Eli has been a different case. If I got near his bed or adjusted anything near him, the calm, hopeful eyes that characterize my son pop open alert and terrified. He begins to get up and looks scared and defensive.
It could be a number of things, but I honestly think that he had been moved so many times in his life from orphanage to orphanage that being awoken in his sleep raised concerns that it might happen again. As I would stroke his face and whisper in his ear, “It’s OK, buddy. You are home. Daddy is here. You are safe. Go back to sleep.” He would slowly ease back down into his bed.
A few weeks ago, I went up to their room to realize that Eli was flipped around in the bed and I was going to have to do something to remedy the situation. I almost just let him be not wanting him to be startled, but I digressed. There was no easy way to maneuver this lil’ guy. He was all tangled up in sheets and I was going to have to move him. As I began to pick him up and do the routine, something shocking happened: he never woke up. I picked him up in my arms, turned him around, placed him with his head nestled on the blanket he likes to keep on his pillow, covered him up, gave him a kiss on the forehead, and walked out of his room without him ever waking up.
That may not impact you like it did me that night. I was overwhelmed. As a grandparent commented to me recently, “I think when Eli got in your arms, he never looked back.” He has in so many ways and adjusted undeniably superb. But it still took roughly 18 months before he could sleep well and I mean really well. You know that kind of sleep, right? It’s the kind of sleep where you are almost comatose because you are just so thankful to be in your own bed. In your own home. And I’m so thankful he finally completely feels that way.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.