Small Victories

It’s been a week since we brought our little girl home from Ethiopia. It feels like the Hatmaker household has experienced five years of change in one week. Technically I guess we have. One little girl, Five years old. If you’ve been to my BLOG before, you probably already know some of the ups and downs of our adoption journey. If you’re new to our journey, and for context, it might be worth a quick look HERE to get caught up.

As an update, I figured I’d start by saying I am completely loving this journey:

  • I love seeing Matawi bond with Gavin, Sydney, and Caleb.
  • I love seeing her attach deeply with Jen (And I mean deeply).
  • I love watching her experience new things. (Ice for example. That was funny.)

But here’s the dealeo… It’s hard parenting a (a potentially stubborn) five-year old girl anyway. Add a massive language barrier, a history of abandonment, and neglect (among other things) and the rules all change. As an adoptive parent, that might be the hardest thing to sift through: Is she doing this because she’s a stubborn five-year old? Or is she acting this way because she’s wounded?

As a parent/human/dude, here are a few things I’m learning that I thought I’d share:

(Lesson One)  I’m learning to enjoy the little things. One victory at a time. It’s too easy to focus on the losses and miss the victories. Especially when they’re small. But honestly, I’m LOVING every little victory along the way. If I didn’t, I’d go crazy. So far, I have three direct victories related to me:

  1. I’ve become the “go to” guy for gum: Jen has respected this boundary. I buy the gum. I give the gum. Jen calls me the gum pimp. For those of you who’ve seen the videos… you know how much Matawi values Gum. It’s interesting to see her communicate with me during the gum transaction. She’s still not sure about showing too much appreciation for me…
    “Matawi. Say Thank you, Daddy.”
    “Thank you……. Mommy.”
    “No, thank you, Daddy.”
    “Thank you….. blah, blah, blah.”
    “No. Matawi… say thank you, Daddy.”
    “Thank you… (Insert blatant face smirk)… doddy.”
  2. She let me read her a bedtime story last night instead of mom (YES!). Of course, for some reason she invited the dog to join us (Whom she hates). It’s as if somehow she was letting me know to keep perspective. She was throwing me a bone. And the dog. She’s a tricky one.
  3. When no one else is available, she’ll let me drive her around the neighborhood on Sydney’s scooter. “Daddy, Moto.” Aw yeah. So far that’s it.

Those three things sum up my week’s interaction. I’ll take‘em.

(Lesson Two)  I’m learning to truly look at the big picture: My desire for Matawi to be healed in two weeks… even months… is so naïve. In fact, it’s ridiculous and selfish. It’s very “western” for us to think a week of central heat and air can solve a third-world orphans problems. She needs to experience years of consistency and unconditional love to know this is real. My prayer right now? (I’d really love a hug) But the truth is, I’m praying for an emotional healthy child… one day. Whatever day that is. Hopefully prior to her teen years. I pray to God she learns what it means to have a healthy relationship with her dad prior to her dating years.

(Lesson Three)  More than anything I’m gaining insight about what it means to be reconciled to a father. Even one we couldn’t have imagined having a relationship with.  The sacrifice of this earthly adoption process is but a crumb on the table compared to the Bread of Life given for us. I’m increasingly humbled by the knowledge that, I am but an orphan… adopted… and given new life. All my years of rejecting God, misunderstanding God, accusing God, holding Him at arms length… and his relentless pursuit. Amazing. Thank you Jesus.

So for now… I’ll take what I can get. And love every moment of it. We continue to see amazing glimpses of restoration. We are filled with hope. According to what the “experts” say… we’re on the right track. And it feels that way. Thank you Jesus.


About Brandon Hatmaker

Church Planter, Missional Strategist, Non-Profit Collaborator, and Author of "Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture". View all posts by Brandon Hatmaker

4 responses to “Small Victories

  • Julie

    I was tag surfing and saw this entry. I had to stop by and congratulate you!

    You will be surprised at how fast the language barrier is gone. My littles came home from Haiti at almost 3 and 4. They were both speaking English within 6 months. They are 6 and 7 now and, sadly, no longer remember any of their native language.

    Attachment exists on a continuum. Biological children take about a year to attach to and prefer their parents to other adults and caretakers. It takes longer with children who enter your home through adoption, but it does usually happen. All three of my children are adopted (even the child who originally was diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder) are attached to me.

  • Danielle Gudgel

    Yay!!!!!! So excited to hear the Hatmaker family has finally been able to bring one of their kiddos home.

    If by any chance you all need assistance with having a babysitter while you spend quality time with kids individually, or quality time for the parents alone, or ABSOLUTELY any variation of well— whatever you need– I would consider it a blessing to be able to contribute to supporting a family in the adoption process. TRULY! I’d like to adopt myself so it would make my little heart happy to have a peak into the process as well.

    By the way, we will probably be arriving in Austin in the last few days of August. And, if you haven’t been told yet, Austin New Church is our new church home. We are even staying at Tyler and Larkin’s place when we arrive.

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