Last year, I was in China with Cora when Alea was born.
Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, but we were there. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the fact that I was standing on the same hard ground as her for those few days she spent with her mother.
Born November 10 and abandoned November 20… A whole lifetime experienced in about 10 days. I think about the conversations her family must have had, the gut-wrenching decisions they made. I may never know the full story, but I do know I was standing on the same soil, and for some reason, that makes me feel more connected to those tragic early days of her life.
We visited the Great Wall while we were there – maybe while she was still in her mother’s arms – and I snapped this picture of Cora with my phone. It’s become one of my favorite photos ever; I loved it so much, I put it on our Christmas card last year.
All year long I thought about having a friend turn it into a painting. But in light of our other (adoption) priorities, I just couldn’t justify spending money on a painting. So, I just printed a small version and hung it in a collage on my wall.
But in early November this year, between the day Alea was born and the day she was abandoned, I wrestled with some incredible anger… at the injustice of a baby spending only 10 days with her family of origin… at her spending her first birthday in an orphanage, likely uncelebrated by anyone… at the incredible wrongness of the worst anniversary I can imagine – the anniversary of being an orphan. I was mad at everyone and no one… and I had nothing productive to funnel the angry energy into.
And then it hit me. The picture. It was time to turn it into a painting. It was more than a desire… it became something of a need.
I wrote an artist friend I know, and she agreed to take on the project. Katie Patton is friends with my mother-in-law and some of our other close family friends, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her the last few months. She is very different from me, but immediately she struck me as someone who could see and paint things not only as they were, but as they should be. So for the last few months, I’ve eagerly been anticipating this…
The picture is complete. It captures my heart so completely… my girls, walking hand-in-hand, breaking down barriers and walls between people and nations. Their heads are up… they aren’t looking at their feet; they are looking at the King above all Kings. They look up because they are loved and so they can see hope and possibility and a future. They are walking into their destinies.