Z and Miss Joy
"Ohhh he looks so good. His face has changed somehow, it looks better -- like he has more of a 'little boy' look now, more peaceful. In the orphanage he always seemed a little-"
[me, interrupting.] "Anxious?"
"Yeah, like he wasn't quite at ease. But now his face just looks-"
[me, interrupting again - bad habit.] "Softer?"
"Yes, that's it exactly. Like he's softened."
This was a conversation I had last week with one of my Very Favorite People on Earth, the director of our agency. Miss Joy, as my kiddos call her, spent time with Z in Ethiopia at least half a dozen times before we brought him home. She is the only person who knew him then and still sees him now, which gives her a unique perspective on how he has grown and changed. Needless to say, receiving those words from her was a precious gift to me!
I went back and looked at pictures today and immediately saw what Joy was seeing. The most interesting photos for me were the ones from our first days together in Ethiopia. At the time I thought he was doing great (and honestly he was, especially compared to my expectations), but now that I know him a little better I can spot the fear and anxiety in his face. He still gets that look from time to time, but (thank God) it is not his default expression anymore. I've known from his behavior and attitude that he was feeling more comfortable and safe, but to actually see it in his face? What a beautiful blessing.