At some point in my heart, you became just our little girl. You moved from orphan with a file, to a longed for daughter, to newly adopted, to just a loved girl with an incredible, unfinished redemption story.
But there was a time….
when your world looked monumentally different
when your infant eyes peered into the face of another mother
when your world cracked open, a giant fault line forming between what should have been and what was to be
when you were in the gut-wrenching epicenter of loss, the in-between: no mother, no home, no orphanage, no records, no plan
when you became an orphan in a building filled with orphans
when all you understood of love was a nanny’s care
when meals were tasks on a busy nanny’s list
Then, mercifully, you were somewhere in-between again. On the other side of the world, our family saw your face and recognized you as our own. The label orphan was no longer yours to carry. You didn’t feel it, but your world was trembling again.
Then, there was a time…
when you went on living unaware in Chengdu, China, no idea that a room was being painted pink, papers with your name being pushed, and your photo framed
when you couldn’t fathom the magnitude of love reaching for you from across oceans
Next, in one swift moment, your world cracked open again as your nanny carried you in her arms one last time, making her way to a conference room. A door opened, and your world collided with ours. All of us trembled, knowing life as we knew it was behind us. The earth didn’t shatter, just pieces of our hearts. You sobbed until you could only sleep, somehow knowing that another fault line had formed, a traumatic end and a scary, but hopeful, beginning.
Then, newly adopted, there was time….
when a hotel room became common ground for tentative smiles and guarded trust
when you boarded a plane bound for the world’s other side, clinging to two almost strangers, toward all things new
when teary eyed strangers at an airport cheered because you’d finally arrived
when your little feet padded through your new home, investigating, but overwhelmed by the stimulation, something missing in institutional life
when you first sat at a family table, binge eating in case the food ran out, an orphan at heart still
when you weren’t sure about sleeping alone without the familiar rumblings of a roomful of other children, the only lullaby you’d ever known
when cleft clinic doctors evaluated your palate and prescribed dental surgery and years of speech therapy
when your pediatrician caught you up on shots and treated orphanage parasites
when you’d plop indiscriminately into the lap of anyone who’d give attention, hungry to fill up your far too empty love tank
when we wondered if you’d ever find your voice, or attach to us as mommy and daddy
Then, without realizing it, between speech therapy, siblings, soccer and spaghetti, the weeks and years passed, and the tremors calmed. Though you’d survived seismic fractures in your foundation, you emerged just our brave little girl who smiles, plays and loves. Today you are a compassionate, silly, obedient five year old who loves stuffed animals, music and rice. You face no more fault lines.
But, as much as the first, hard struggles of adoption are behind us, the journey continues. It keeps evolving, and we now navigate occasional aftershocks.
There are times when the world shakes the ground again…
when a friend asks, “Is she your REAL mom? Where IS your REAL mom?”
when grocery check-out clerks question, “Is she yours? Are they REAL siblings?”
when giggling playground kids stretch the sides of their eyes and babble in “Chinese”
There are times when the rumbling arrives from within you…
when you place your little brown arm next to my lighter skinned arm
when you turn your face toward mine and see eyes shaped more oval than almond shaped
when you ask, “ARE you my REAL mom?”
when your baby pictures have nannies in them instead of parents
when you wonder about this “first mother” somewhere far away
Yes, my girl, you were adopted. Yes, the world will always notice. Yes, there will be long stretches when adoption is not on your mind. But, yes, there will be times when tremors of emotions come. Trust that we’ll walk with you as you try to understand the fault lines and navigate your unfinished story.
I can’t explain the loss of your culture, birth parents, or extended family, but I can point you to the One who carried you up and over those fault lines. I don’t believe God’s plan for you was for your earth to quake and land you somewhere else, but I do believe that He takes the hard and reclaims it. I trust that His work in your life, and on this earth, is unfinished, still a beautiful, emerging redemption song.
Only God can reconcile your loses and help you uncover your story’s beauty. Know that your forever mommy and daddy are praying for you to have eyes to see that beauty at a young age. The word “adopted” might feel like a qualifier before you name, but it is a sweet word to us. It comes at a high cost, but it tells the powerful love story of unique, delicate, brave you.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. – Psalm 46:2-6