One year ago, I saw this sweet face, in person, for the first time. He hardly even seems like the same kid. Now that I really know him and understand his amazing personality, I think this is one of my all-time favorite pictures of him.
He has a truck in one hand, a teddy bear in the other. His pants are too tight and his shirt's a mess. Those eyes see everything.
That sums up Daniel Bereket.
He's tough. He never walks anymore. He has no finesse. He does everything with as much power behind it as he can. Nothing stops him. He gets hurt. He cries. He gets right back up and does the same thing until he gets it right.He hugs Andrew with a fierceness that knocks them both to the floor more times than not.
He's tender. He gives the best kisses and hugs you've ever had. When I kiss him good-night, he grabs my face and tells me 'more'. He tells me 'I love you' in Sidama. He remembers all his friends from Ethiopia and jabbers on about them every time he sees one of their pictures. He loves his brother. He watches him constantly and copies every single thing he does. He's sensitive and the tears roll quickly when he is hurt emotionally or physically. He immediately runs to me for kisses and is easily soothed. He's the first one to offer hugs when someone else is hurt. He LOVES babies and is extremely gentle with them. He offers them his favorite toys and leads them around by the hand.
He's big. He weighs more than Andrew by a pound or two. He is solid. You can't believe how heavy he is or how strong he is. When his truck rolls under or behind something, he just walks over and moves the furniture aside so he can reach it. When he hugs, he uses his whole body and you know you've been hugged. He pushes doors open and then points for us to go through them. He insists on helping to carry bags from the car.
He's messy. I've never met a kid this messy. He puts his whole self into everything he does and it shows. He is clean for about 10 seconds after getting dressed. He constantly puts things in his hair (mostly food) and wipes everything on the front of his shirt. His hands are perpetually sticky. He does nothing half-way. He lives like we all should--enjoying whatever he is doing to it's fullest while it is in front of him.
His eyes see everything. He misses nothing. He's amazingly smart...especially for a child who had limited experiences before the age of 2. His problem-solving skills amaze me. You can watch him come up against a problem and then work through it. He'll try several things before asking for help. His expressive speech is still limited. He may need some help with it next school year, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't understand everything that is said to him and that he isn't making constant connections. He communicates in his own ways and makes himself and his needs very clear. He recently saw pictures of his first parents and called them by name. He has not seen them for over a year and a half.
The only thing about this picture that is not always true about him is the sad face. He was obviously grieving during that time. He is, by nature, a very happy, content child. He laughs easily and often. He loves to be tickled. Loves jokes. Loves music. Loves to sing and dance (although he has almost no rhythm and shakes the house when he dances).
His name means 'Blessing' and that is exactly what he is.