I caught myself staring at my little Chinese boy tonight as he fell asleep in my arms. So much has changed in our three plus years together. He is a whopping five years old now, has gained 15 pounds and grown 10 inches among other things. Our life together is so normal now, it’s almost easy to forget that our little family had a ‘start date’; that we haven’t always been mother and son.
When I think back to our first night together… after the gotchya and the photos and the paperwork, there was an hour and half we had together alone in the hotel room while the rest of the family went and found much needed food… when I think of that first time together as a family, I recall the tears. I should remember his soft skin, or the feel of his freshly shaved head or his sweet Asian smell. But what is burned into my memory are the tears of sorrow we cried together; just us, as a family.
You could tell he was physically and emotionally exhausted. His tiny body fell prone on the silky hotel bed covering and my new son wept from his soul. It was a deep heart-broken cry that I could provide absolutely no comfort for. I sat next to him praying and rubbing his sweet legs sobbing with him, drenching the back of his brand new American pajamas. I could only imagine his grief; good God, would I ever be able to help him heal?? When he finally exhausted himself and fell asleep I had to move him out of the puddle we both had created.
It would be easy to look back at those 90 minutes as the most terrifying or traumatic moment in our family history (which at that time was only 3 hours old!). But that hour and a half was in no way traumatic; it was holy. Those precious tears soaking the bed sheets of a Chinese Sheraton created the covenant of our family. A bond that only I would have the power to break. My new child owed me nothing and never will, I had chosen to love him forever and help carry whatever burden he may have, including his grief.
And in that same moment I gave my family to our Heavenly Father who said the same to me: you are enough as you are; I love you freely and will carry every burden you will ever have.
There are so many different tears that define a family, especially an adoptive family. The tears of grief and sorrow. Tears of physical pain, heartache and of fatigue. Tears of anger and tears of overwhelmedness. And for those who have battled post adoption depression, tears from a deep unknown, but they scream that you are still trying, still seeking a way. I can imagine that those tears are terrifying. The tears of joy come in time though. We know this because He who also wept (John 11:35) promised us (Psalm 126:5)…“those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting!”
That is probably what I was feeling tonight as I held my not-so-little boy, on the verge of crying for utter joy. Just look what the Lord has done with those first tears of fear and confusion! And every tear since. Each one so very precious to the Lord. Of so much treasure He collects and records them all.
“You have collected ALL my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded EACH one in your book” (Psalms 56:8)
There is deep comfort and promise in these two lines from King David. No tear in our human walk on this earth is wasted; no tear in any part of our adoption journey – ours or our child’s – is expended carelessly. Each fragile drop protected and secured. I imagine in Heaven that we will bow at our Savior’s throne in final surrender and wash His feet with the tears of our bottle:
Through our tears of sorrow and grief… You comforted!
Through our tears of fear and anger… You provided!
Through our tears of joy and thankfulness… You reigned!