That's what I think of when I think of when I think of Levi. I don't think 'African American'. I don't think 'Down syndrome.' I don't even think 'different than normal kids', except to think that he's more fun than "normal" kids.
I didn't want to adopt Levi at first. I was leery of his Down syndrome. Would he ever be able to talk? When I went to college would he remember who I was? Would he know my name? Would he love me?
I didn't like the age difference either. Levi would be six when I went to college. I wanted a relationship with my brother. I wanted to know him, to watch him grow up.
Every single doubtful thought disappeared when I first met him. I loved his brown skin, and his little tuft of curly, black hair on his head. I loved how he opened his eyes and simply drank in his surroundings. I loved how he held onto my little finger. After our half hour meeting with him, all I could say was, "I want him."
Levi's adoption story is an unusual, but blessed one. His foster family, the Kroekers, are now good friends of ours, our "extended family."
Then we came in.
Little did we know how many medical issues Levi would have. I remember the first time he went to the hospital, for breathing problems. I don't think anything has ever hurt my heart more than seeing my little man in so much pain.
Then followed a tonsillectomy, other unexpected stays, open heart surgery, and two stomach surgeries.
Some people ask why we would go through all this. Why would we go through this much pain and strife, not to mention the financial burden of so many hospital visits (not to mention therapies...) for a child that we didn't have to have?
The answer is simple. Levi is ours. Levi is my brother. Levi is just as much my family as my mom or my dad or my other adopted brother (who looks just like us). None of his medical issues has ever made me wish we never had him, but rather thankful that he's ours to take care of. Levi is not a child that we didn't have to have. We did have to have him. Because it was God's intention. Levi is my little brother, my small man, my light when all I see is darkness, my confidante when the world seems against me, the one who will dance with me when I'm supposed to be doing homework.
Levi is Levi. And I wouldn't change him for the world.