Our son will never have one of those shocking moments when he finally discovers he was adopted.

Our son will never have one of those shocking moments when he finally discovers he was adopted.

He has figured out how many white people and how many black people live in our home. Dawit isn’t different. He is just a different color.

But having lived outside of Ethiopia for less than a year, his English is far from perfect. However, thanks to immersion, speech therapy and preschool,  his vocabulary and diction improve every day.

As his language skills rise, his frustrations drop. He is now better able to express thoughts and even emotions. He no longer has to be alone in his feelings. He can share them.

We noticed immediately that any time a conversation was going on, all Dawit wanted was to join in. He wanted to relate in the same way.

He would push his way into a conversation about plans for the weekend or situations at work to tell us about Thomas the Tank Engine or recount his weekly schedule for us.

“Monday school, Tuesday Y, Wednesday school,” and so on.

Judging by his reactions, we knew that he wasn’t certain about the permanence of his new family situation. He lived with his birth mother for more than two years until she had to relinquish him or watch him continue to suffer from malnourishment and pneumonia. He was not in good shape when he got to that first orphanage in his hometown.

Life took him hundreds of miles away to the capital city of Addis Ababa where he would stay in three different orphan care centers run by our adoption agency. Then last June, we took custody of him and he flew halfway around the world to his new home.

He is used to change. But I don’t think he likes it.

We also knew that he was angry at his birth mother for leaving him at the orphanage. When we met with her during our stay in country, he wanted nothing to do with her. She wanted to know that he would be well cared for, have a big family and a chance to be a doctor. All he wanted to know was that he didn’t have to stay with her.

Finally this week, he was able to talk through some of these emotions.

“Dawit like Lem Lem, no,” he told my wife with his characteristic word reversal.

That was his way of saying he does not like Lem Lem, his birth mother.

When my wife asked him why, he made a motion as though she were pulling him back away from us.

Through walking to Dawit, my wife figured out that he was angry because she had left him alone and he was scared that she was going to take him back from us one day. The person who was supposed to love and protect him left him with strangers and for more than a year, he was by himself unable to communicate beyond when to eat and where to go.

My wife explained to him that his birth mother loved him very much but she was scared because he was sick and she couldn’t feed him enough.

He seemed to accept this information. He probably isn’t convinced, but at least it is a start.

And then the other shoe fell. He was able to ask something that he has been worried about for more than nine months.

“Momma, Dawit alone?” he asked. He wanted to know if my wife was going to give him away like his birth mother had to.

“No. Dawit will always be with momma,” she assured him. “Momma, daddy, Blake and Dawit. Always.”

He jumped out of the back seat and threw his arms around her.

“Love you, momma,” he said with a tight squeeze.

I think he understood.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.