The best way I can describe the way my life feels right now is that it is on pause.
On pause because I met my daughter, spent five beautiful weeks with her, and then promptly returned her to the airport just like I had guaranteed I would do.
For me, the whole idea of orphan hosting is a double edge sword. On the one side, I found my daughter and without her little face displayed on that hosting site I would have never discovered her. After all, she had waited six years in an orphanage hoping for a family. Six years. Without one single person willing to love and care for her as if she were their own. I myself probably would have passed right over her file to pick a child who was younger.
And that in itself is what makes the orphan hosting program an amazing opportunity. Children who have been passed over day after day, year after year have a fighting chance at getting a family. Because the minimum age requirement for hosting is six years, some of the children’s only “special need” is that they are an older child. My daughter happened to be one of the younger ones. And her special need is Down syndrome.
In the six months leading up to that emotional first meeting at the airport, we had prayed for, dreamed of and planned for the month we would spend together as a family. We decided early on (early as in the day we were locked in as her host family) that we wanted to start our daughter’s adoption right away. The thought of loving her and then sending her back to China seemed daunting enough, but add to that a year of wait time before we would see her again and we just couldn’t imagine the thought. At least by starting our paperwork and homestudy months before we met Lucy insured that our time apart would be shortened. And that should make this separation time easy, right?
Wrong. No matter how you look at it, having to say goodbye to your child, even a child you have only known five weeks, is gut-wrenching. Standing at the airport the night Lucy left us, I felt like screaming, “My daughter has just been taking from me! And I have no idea when I will see her again!”
Maybe another reason this time apart has been so difficult is because we attached to our daughter so quickly. Because sweet Lucy was born with an extra chromosome she had more than enough love overflowing from her little heart. It only took one hug and she knew I was her mama, making us pretty much inseparable from that moment on. She slept between my husband and I (thanks to some great advice on NHBO). She only walked when absolutely necessary and usually was carried around propped on my hip. She loved it when I would feed her and in exchange let her feed me. Her favorite game to play was for me to lay on the floor and let her ‘doctor’ me with toy shots and stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs. Our bond was strong and it was clear our daughter was finally where she belonged.
So how do you let go and return to a normal life when your child is half a world away? How do you fold that last load of tiny clothes that were left in the washer the day she left? How do you eat her favorite meal of fried rice without wishing she was there to savor it with you? How do you lay your head on your pillow at night and imagine that sweet little face, a face that had pressed against yours for five weeks and now she is gone?
You focus on getting her home.
You turn that energy that could be spent on grieving what was lost and focus on your future. Together.
Being stuck in the middle between knowing my daughter and now not having her for a period of time has taught me a lot of unexpected things. I now know I can do this. I can bond, I can parent and I can be good enough for my daughter. Maybe the most important thing is she now knows love. When we come busting through the doors in China to greet Lucy (and we will) she will know we came for her. She will know that her life matters and she is important to somebody. She will know the home and the family that she returning to. Forever.
I could keep my life on pause until the day we finally fly to China and reunite with our little girl, but I am choosing to use my time to prepare for the life she will get to experience. God has beautiful plans for my little one, even if it took six years for us to get there.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
— guest post by Audrey