When I first arrived in Kenya, The Shelter site boasted this one baby boy. He was the prince of the entire compound. He has the temperament of an 80 year old man. Habitually serious, his smile in this picture is a newer addition to his face. Of course, I have a season pass to the emotional rollercoaster, myself. So we understand each other.
By December 2017, we added two other baby boys. Brothers. No one was sure how the transition would go. Most of us braced ourself for turf wars and tantrums. However, they became fast friends. They cried when break came and they were separated for Christmas. When one returned before the others, he refused to speak to anyone until his compatriots were restored to him.
I’ve actually known these brothers for two years. I met them first during my short term trip in the summer of 16′. They were so new to the program at that time and were being watched for cognitive delays and other malnutrition symptoms. Now all I see is the blossoming personalities of these two polar-opposites. The oldest is reserved, cautious, responsible, curious. The youngest is bold and fearless. He stands up on the swing all by himself, scales my body like a tree for a hug, and lives deaf to the soundtrack of, “careful! you’ll fall!” They are both ready with smiles and giggles…as long as it’s not nap time (see the anchor photo).
Then, in March, we added a fourth baby boy. He’s now the youngest (or last born, as we say in Kenya) of the site. He cried the first time he saw me. Many small Kenyan babies do when confronted with a white person. CoverGirl labels me “porcelain”, Africa seems to have settled on “ghostlike”. Now, he is the mostly smilie little guy I’ve ever met. He’s also, currently, nonverbal. We had all the doctors run all the tests just to confirm what we already know. There is nothing physically wrong with him and he’ll talk when he’s ready. In the meantime he’s been taught some sign language. He says, “thank you” after every meal.
So, now there are four. And I’ve nicknamed them My Baby Boy Gang. They are the only ones home during the school day. They do everything together: live, play, eat, fight. Four simultaneous tantrums are the WORST. THING. EVER. But when you get to work, and they wave at you from their porch, calling your name, wanting hugs, or when they race into your office like a centipede with four heads throwing themselves at your lap, wanting to color, read, cuddle, and play with magnets, all I can do is acquiesce to their adorable power over us all and laugh when they pee in the corner.
I marvel that before any of us were even born, God was working out a plan to rescue and raise these baby boys to be healthy, vibrant, courageous men of God. I’m humbled to have a front row seat and a small part in that plan. I can’t wait to see what’s next!