When I learned my boy was in foster care, I found myself praying for the woman who was caring for my child. She was doing her job and I was appreciated her. When I heard that she co-slept with my boy keeping him safe by her side at night and that Isaac’s favorite activity was listening to music…music she turned on for him…my prayers became intentional. She was mothering my son when I could not. She was holding him and caring for him and making sure he stayed healthy. She was MY hands from an ocean away. My heart suddenly turned towards her. What was this process going to be like for her? Her job (and what I would find out later is her ministry) is to nurture this tiny boy until his “real” & blue-eyed mother arrived with paperwork and passports and money..and then give him away. Her heart must break at the thought!
I pleaded with my agency to let me met this woman. They could promise nothing and gently asked me to have realistic expectations. Once in country, I begged our national social worker. She was kind but again noted in that province meeting the foster family was not permitted. I even asked our Beijing tour guide, “Is there any possible way?” He looked at me like I was delusional; “No. Your child was taken away from his foster family two weeks ago and taken back to the orphanage. No foster family for you“. I was crushed. The joy of knowing I was getting my child was indescribable, but his foster mother…will she ever know how much I owe her?
Miracle of miracles, we met that day. She was gentle and kind. She doted on our son and told me everything she knew about him from the last 15 months; she gave me photos she had taken and showed me how to feed him. She carefully passed the mantel of The Motherhood of Isaac to me while our boy banged on the glass coffee table in front of us. Through the tears she let me kiss her forehead and then she walked away. I never got her name.
Fast forward nearly two years, an intense Internet search and a lot of prayer…a letter arrived in the mail. A family is Pennsylvania found online knew of a Chinese pastor in Isaac’s province. With only her photo, they would help find her. And they did!
“…I have been worried about Isaac. I miss him very much!
Thank you for taking care of him…I thank God!…”
As our son sang wildly in his car seat, I stood in the driveway with her letter crying. In her own hand she had written us. She had a name. She loved our boy. She loved our God. My heart could not have smiled any wider. God’s redemptive plan from that pivotal moment in the Garden of Eden included she & I to mother together. To step into the shoes of his birth mother & provide hope for her child. To whisper our Heavenly Father’s love to him while he slept. To worship together across an ocean and to offer our hearts in faith that God’s plan is so very much bigger than us. I love this woman more now than I have words for. And how many more like her are there? Brothers & sisters in China nurturing the forgotten children of their neighbors? In our distance and shared faith, Apostle Paul’s words have new life for me: “I give thanks to God ALWAYS for you, making mention of you in my prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of OUR God and Father” (1 Thes 1:2-3).
To our Chinese brothers & sisters in Christ who are fulfilling God’s calling to care for the orphan…we love you! You are loving on our children and we cannot wait to be a completed family with you in Heaven!