In the Suburbs / It’s like Lucas has always been here
We’ve had our new grandson Lucas all week while my daughter teaches a summer program at Wesleyan University in Middletown. And he’s adjusting so well, it’s hard to believe that he hasn’t always been part of our family. We only returned from China with Lucas two weeks ago after what seemed like an endless adoption process for our daughter Stacey and this “grandparenting” thing is pure pleasure.
While the memories of that special trip and this journey to adoption will always linger, we have quickly settled into our new roles as LoLo (maternal grandma) and Loyeh (maternal grandpa). Reality has definitely hit. And he is a wonderful and special little boy of five-and-a half.
On Monday, June 19, after what seemed like the year that would never end, Stacey signed the necessary papers and became a mom at last. Lucas had the first mom he’s known in five and a half years and he quietly walked away from the only life he has known—an orphanage in a small town called Datong.
After completing our trial run in China with Lucas following the official adoption, we realized that this dream had finally come true and our newest family member was beginning the adventure of his life. But sadly, Stacey learned that in Lucas’ orphanage alone, some 900 other children of all ages were still eligible for adoption. And many other parents we met from all over the United States had adopted their children from other orphanages across China.
Worse yet, we learned that the fostering part of Stacey’s program, where Lucas and a group of some 25 kids had come to the United States for three weeks last year and stayed with host families, who considered adoption, was recently terminated by the current administration. What a bummer that was.
Her agency, Cradle of Hope, urged Stacey and other families to write to legislators and ask them to apply pressure to the White House. Even our coordinator in Guangzhou assured us that the adoption well was already beginning to run dry.
Meanwhile, my wife and I are loving our new roles and found so much to do with Lucas during our “gotcha” week with him. Last year, we knew our time was short, so we tried to create our own Disneyworld week with visits to Beardsley Zoo, The Maritime Aquarium and the Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport before Lucas left.
But now that he will always be around, I researched reality activities -- cheap or free. For instance, we were amazed that he remembered our neighbor’s home where he played with her grandchildren for hours. So earlier in the week, Lucas virtually dragged me over to our neighbor’s and I asked if he could play with a doll house and blocks he had played with the last time.
We were there for more than an hour. It was amazing.
From there we journeyed to an amazing little water park and playground right on the grounds of the north branch of the Bridgeport Library. I could barely pry Lucas off the swings so we could get back to meet his mom.
On Tuesday, we went to the Fairfield University Bookstore where I work and spent nearly two hours there. Our kids’ books manager Susan patiently showed Lucas books and puzzles... He was the proverbial kid in a candy store and I became the proverbial broke grandpa. Thank goodness for my employee discount.
The rest of this week has been a blur of visits with friends, a return to the water park and playground and a special lunch of Lucas’ favorite foods so far with our school social worker who adopted a little girl 13 years ago. Our social worker was incredibly supportive throughout this entire process and we couldn’t be more grateful.
The week before this one, my daughter brought Lucas down and we introduced him to my diner friends for breakfast and headed over to Bass Pro Shops in Bridgeport for a real experience. We didn’t leave that store for three hours.
And next week, we’ll resume our normal routine, which will make our poor dogs (Lucas calls them by their Mandarin name --Go Go’s) very happy. The two little guys have been barking like crazy when he arrives.
Now that life as Stacey’s son has begun for little Lucas Gaynes, I consider myself one of his new-life tour guides. These days, I’m a true Dr. Seuss follower as I explore all the places we’ll go on his new paths of life.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com.