I am 36 hours from meeting my fourth child. For many of you, this may be a bit of a surprise. I've kept the secret hidden well. My clothes still fit and I've experienced no unusual cravings. The bedroom is set with all the things the new arrival should need. This should be the easiest delivery of them all. I don't even think I'll miss a day of work. Yet, I am still nervous.
I expect my newest child and I will bond well, but we may have difficulty communicating at first. I'll need to figure out what he likes to eat by watching his facial expressions. I'll also monitor his sleeping habits. If he coughs or sneezes too loudly, I'll run in to check just like I did with all the others. No doubt my other children will help him fit into our family.
My newest addition arrives with many characteristics that my three other children did not, however. First, he is much bigger. Owen is already a tennis champion. He studies calculus, plays the piano beautifully, and needs to shave. He is bilingual and has traveled the world in his young life. Owen is 17, and will join my family for a year as a foreign exchange student from Jiujiang, China. We are very excited that Owen's parents are entrusting him to us.
Saturday is the big day. Owen will come to our house to stay. He's been in the country for less than a week now, and we've met him at the school. He has been staying with the Chinese teacher this week to ease the transition and give me time to breathe during this first week of school. Gary has been getting his room together. Owen seems very sweet, but shy and not confident about his English. I know what a huge difference living with an American family will be for his confidence, and I can only expect the difference on my family for having known Owen will also be life-changing.
Waiting for Owen to join our family is similar to waiting for a baby to be born. The nerves are there, as is the excitement of the unknown. The reality is my family will grow to include his parents and grandmother, half a world away. The relationships may last a lifetime. My oldest son is already planning to visit China and stay with Owen when he gets there.
How do these types of relationships find their way into a family tree? I'm not too sure right now. But over the course of the next year I plan to figure it out.