Continuing in reverse age order, our second blessing is Aidan Samuel Getahun Gowin. He and his sister came home with us one year and 4 months ago. God gave me his Bible name a long time ago and then reiterated it the same summer that he gave me Eva’s name Ruth. Hannah prayed for a son and God promised her Samuel, who was eventually not raised by his biological family. He was used by God in mighty ways, but one funny way that Aidan Samuel has already lived out his name is that he often comes running when we call anyone’s name, thinking we called him! Remember the story in the Old Testament when God was calling young Samuel in the night, but he kept running to the priest Eli because he thought Eli was calling him? Hopefully as he matures, he will hear God’s voice loud and clear. 🙂
Aidan turned six today and was so excited about it! He is actually more likely 8 years old, but April 16, 2006 is the date they made up on his birth certificate and so he doesn’t know any differently. In most rural villages in Ethiopia, birthdays are not celebrated. They don’t have a calendar on the wall of their hut. Each of their days looks pretty much the same—the focus is mostly on finding work and food for the day and cooking it.
So when Aidan came here, he didn’t know about birthday celebrations. He had one last year, but there wasn’t a way to explain it to him with his limited English understanding at the time, so it just happened. Now that he knows what to expect and understands the concept of a year, there has been much anticipation for his birthday this year! His teacher at school says he has almost daily pointed out his birthday on the calendar! He had a party with some friends on Thursday over Spring Break, and this morning we celebrated him with our family, brought Oreo frog treats to school, and went out to eat Culver’s tonight. I’m sure Michael will post pictures soon.
We are celebrating what a joy he is and celebrating how God brought him to our home. Just the other day, Aidan saw me looking at a post by a Facebook friend who was recently in Uganda. He saw the woman and remarked that she was like me (and pointed to my skin) and that the kids were like him (meaning brown). Then he asked me: “Mom, how you pick me? You do eny-meeny-miny-mo?” It was the perfect time to sit him on my lap and explain how much God loves him! “God saw you and Eva in Ethiopia and He told your daddy and me [using my big God voice], ‘Michael and Suzanne, there is a four year old boy and his baby sister in Ethiopia, and I want YOU to go to Africa and get them and take care of them forever!'” Aidan asked incredulously, “He really said dat??” I laughed, “No, but he did tell us in our hearts.” Aidan curled up in my lap and gave me lots of kisses. I asked him what that was for, just to hear what he’d say, and he said, “You’re my mom!”
Aidan is one of the happiest kids you will meet. Almost everything is fun or funny to him. He has a beautiful big smile that is contagious and eyes that just light up! And he loves life! Of course, he has the Ethiopian loudness gene so his fun is quite big, which is what causes some of the notes home from school. 🙂 He loves to be a helper and is very good at chores. He is very strong and athletic and will be the star on the ball team some day. We have done a few small soccer camps and have put up a basketball hoop, but we will wait till he is a little older to really dive into athletics. We wanted to focus on attachment, ABC’s, and social skills first. He has done really well with his schooling and will likely be at the top of his class. Even though he objected to all the new foods at first, we didn’t allow him to be picky, and within a few weeks he was eating EVERYTHING and asking for more! And though his body objected to structure at first, he thrives on it now. He is the first to follow through, without prompting, with whatever routine he is supposed to be doing (getting ready for school, etc.). And he never forgets a rule, nor is he defiant, so when he disobeys, it is most always because the other thing simply looked more fun.
We would not be honest if we said this first year has been easy. Aidan’s first 6 years of his life were pretty much spent in a village on his own with little supervision or correction. So couple that with a take-charge personality and the Ethiopian happy-but-argumentative culture (yes, that sounds contradictory but it is true), and you have a little boy who tried to come in and control our family from day one. Before he could barely speak any English, he was always (I’m not exaggerating) announcing whose turn it was or arguing about how to play a game that the other kids had just finished teaching him. Add this to the fact that he was regularly making loud obnoxious noises to make sure he was noticed, and the other kids got tired of this really fast. They have all had to learn patience and grace as we try to catch Aidan up on his social skills. He loves people so much, and Michael and I are trying our best to teach him to chill out some so he won’t push away his friends before they even get a chance to know really him.
We totally get the fact that he had to survive on his own some in his old environment—which is why he has scars from fires he fell in while cooking, etc.—but we are trying to help him thrive in this environment. He is doing so much better, but it has been a lot of work and something we still work on daily. I will admit that last summer was one of my hardest summers ever, with them all home and SO much arguing. I lost my patience a lot more than I care to admit, and God has done some refining of me as well. There were times that I wondered if we were getting anywhere, but then I watched a video we had taken of him in Ethiopia, and he looked like he was high on Mountain Dew! That same kid in the States would have been put on ritalin immediately! Fortunately for him (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it 🙂 ), he now has two first-born parents who do their best to focus on self-discipline and consistency, paired with love. Self-control is still an issue for him but he is doing so much better and is therefore more at peace with himself as well.
I know, without a doubt, that like Samuel in the Bible, God is going to do great things through Aidan as he matures! One time when he was helping me wash potatoes, he said, “If I get hundred dollars, I give it to da airplane man and he take me to African so I can tell dem bout God!” I replied, “Well, that’s not quite enough money. But I thought a lot of people in Ethiopia already knew about God?” “Not like DIS!! How much, two hundred? I guess I will have to wait.” He sees how much God loves us and is involved in saving our lives, and he wants to share that great news! If that is not Samuel, then I don’t know what is.