A Letter From Us

September 13, 2015 Attachment, first weeks home, first year home, Rebecca, September 2015 Feature - Coming Home, siblings 1 Comments

When newly home two years ago with three year old, Eli, and one year old, Evelyn, life felt turned upside down for such a very long time. A few months in, I found myself focusing more heavily on the changes I was feeling and experiencing than on how my two little ones, who had been carried away from their worlds in China, might have been feeling. In order to reorient my heart, I spent some time processing through what my kids might have told me if they could.

Dear Momma,

We first walked through the doors of what you call home two months ago. Can you believe it? Seems like longer.

This has all been so confusing to us. It was just an ordinary day of playing at the orphanage when you suddenly appeared. You had tears in your eyes, and it seemed like you knew us, but we didn’t recognize you. Our nannies handed us to you, and then they stepped away. You looked so different, and your hugs and kisses felt strange. All the fuss unnerved us. We weren’t used to being touched so much. You even smelled different, and we couldn’t understand your words. Your smile was friendly though, and we loved all the fun things you had in your bag. Then, you carried us out the doors of the only place we’d ever known. As we drove toward all things new, our cribs, nannies and friends were moving farther and farther away in the rearview mirror. It’s like our hearts stopped beating and our heads started spinning. It’s been really scary.

Remember that our little hearts are still trying to make sense of it all. Our worlds just stopped when you added us to yours.

We know we brought some crazy into your ordered, comfortable world, and sometimes you and daddy seem tired, frazzled, and grumpy. Maybe we turned your life upside down. Ours is upside down too.

Despite it all, we catch you looking at us and smiling. And when you pull us close, it feels hopeful now, even if we still aren’t sure how to handle the touch.

You guys are kind though and take such gentle care of us. Slowly, safety is calming us. The best thing? It hasn’t ended yet. We keep wondering if it will. Every morning we wake up and you are still there. This thing called family feels like something special. We don’t quite get it yet, but it is starting to settle into the deep places of us.

We’ve noticed that when we go places, we always come right back to this same place. It’s like we all belong here. This house is fun too. Everything is soft and cozy. Tile, concrete and lots of kids sharing the same things are what we were used to. Here, interesting things seem to be in every drawer and basket. We like to dump things out and investigate, because we were never allowed to explore before. There wasn’t anything to explore.

More great news? We are growing more attached to you. You feel safe, so when you aren’t in the room, everything feels off. You’d probably prefer that we not sit on the rug beside the tub during your end of a long day bath, but we just love the feeling we get when we are with you. And those little almond eyes you see under the bathroom door? That’d be us. There is a deep place within us that wonders if you’ll leave and never come back. Could that be part of our story more than twice?


We might call everyone “mama”, but in our hearts, we are learning who you are. You are different from all the “mamas” who have taken care of us. You are gentle and constant. Something in us just knows that you’ve changed everything.

As you can tell, we require a wee bit of extra grace. You didn’t think it was funny when we stuffed things in the toilet, dug dirt out of plants, peed on the couch, played on the carpet with water filled toy dishes, smushed oatmeal in our just washed hair, got into the medicine cabinet, and ripped pages out of your library book. There might be some words that you said that we shouldn’t repeat. And those “child safety” things you just installed? Probably a real good idea.

Can you keep showing us grace? We’re just checking out our new world. Deep breaths might be a good idea as well.

Sometimes we just can’t process how the newness makes us feel. It’s hard to understand-even the good parts. When the feelings are too much, sometimes we cry, scream, grow silent, run away, or hold on hard and not let go. Does your grace and love have a limit?

Keep singing “Jesus Loves Me” into our ears. It quiets our shaking souls. Someday soon we’ll learn the words.

Don’t worry so much about us learning to talk. Our ears just need more time taking in all the English. You sound so different from the nannies.

You’ve got baskets of books everywhere. We think they might be something special. The sitting still thing while you read is a bit hard, but please don’t stop trying. Your lap feels good, and the cadence of your voice a simple comfort. Be patient.

American food is funny, isn’t it? We ate very different food in China. Give us time, and please serve lots of rice and noodles. We’ll get used to the rest.

We get the feeling you’d like for us to sleep better at night. Sometimes when we cry because we aren’t right next to you, you seem really grumpy. Remember that we used to sleep in a room with all our friends. There were even night nurses who would play at midnight. We’re afraid if we wake up and you aren’t in the room. The good news is that you make us feel safe. Is that what love means?

When we first came home, you were doing well just to give us all baths and clothe us. You sure have come a long way. You and dad are SO productive now. It’s like you got on a mission to handle it all. Accomplishing tasks seems to make you feel good. That’s important and all, but instead of an empty dishwasher and a plan, maybe we could just BE together. When you take the time to hold us, look in our eyes, and react to our smiles and cries, something new stirs in our hearts.

Thanks for the healthy meals and folded clothes in our drawers, but maybe one day we could just eat hot dogs, wear the same clothes two days in a row and dance in the kitchen. Daddy has some great moves.

And outside? So cool. That’s new to us too. Let’s go out there more. We’ll try to remember not to walk in the road.

Sometimes, just for a passing minute, do you ever think about life before we met and miss it? Yep, us too. Everything has changed for all of us. Let’s not forget though that God made us some promises, and that He writes stories with great endings.


You seem to worry that you haven’t been a good mom to us, but you are the best mommy we’ve ever had. The idea of you, and the experience of being loved by you, is building something new in us. When your head hits the pillow at night, you might run through your failures and regrets, but all we know is that it felt good to be with you.

Let’s just keep the grace flowing. This has all been really hard, but it’s the start of something really beautiful.

Elijah and Evelyn

One response to “A Letter From Us”

  1. Absolutely perfect. Beautiful and such a good reminder, even for the littles who have been home a long, long time.

    You knocked it out of the park again, my friend!!!! Really. Just amazing.

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