I don’t quite know how to start this post. How do you describe such holy ground as we are standing on? I am so afraid to write because I know my words will not do it justice. I think this is how Mary must have felt when she “kept these things in her heart and pondered them”.
Yesterday, we waited patiently to be taken to the Civil Affairs office where we were to finally meet our daughter. The Lord was very near as I even napped a little during this wait and was really not even nervous until it was time to go down to the van. David, however, couldn’t sit still and decided to gallivant around the hotel to Starbucks and the bank. When he finally got back, it was time to head out. The kids were excited, except for Kate, whose nap was cut short and who decided at the last minute that she didn’t want a sister. There’s one in every crowd.
Our trip to the government office was 30 minutes and besides pent up nervousness included near heart attacks from the lack of traffic organization. I mean, I really do not know why they even have signals and signs because NOBODY follows them. It definitely distracted me from the real reason for panic.
We arrived around 3pm and we were slowly piling out of the van. As I got out, I watched another family in front of us who were obviously meeting their young girl. She looked around 8 or 9. Our guide went over to ask if this was Jessica, but of course, I knew it wasn’t. As I watched our guide (who is a fairly entertaining woman that keeps calling herself “fat”, which really isn’t even close to an issue in China), I heard David gasp behind me. I whirled to see a man leading our daughter down the street. We weren’t in any way prepared… all the lectures from David about how to hold the video camera and how many pictures to get of what moment flew out the window. Our daughter was walking toward us. The boys scrambled for the cameras, I scrambled for my girl. I am still not sure what video we got. This was the moment.
I wish I could say that we balled and clung to each other for life. Jessica hugged me, but she clung desperately to her old life..to familiarity…to 14 years of predictability. You see, as amazing as our communication has been up to this point, it has only been that…conversation. Now it was time for the “rubber to meet the road” and though we couldn’t understand each other in conversation any more, it was time for commitment to speak. So as she clung to her orphanage director, we held on to her. We aren’t going anywhere, sweet girl. We are here and it is for life.
We went inside and signed documents and listened to a lot of Chinese babbling back and forth, understanding only what little our guide had time to translate. Jessica barely said a word, but they had many words for her. Most of them to instruct her to listen to us. I think every one of these people has been shocked at how young we look. And truly, I am barely old enough to be this girls mother…and not nearly Chinese enough.
My heart breaks here. Yes, Kate is Chinese, but she was only 2 and a half years in Chinese culture, just beginning to learn. Jessica, our sweet daughter, has been raised in Chinese culture by fully Chinese people. Jessica will never be American inside like Kate already is. She is Chinese through and through. And while I completely love this about her, I feel so ill equipped. I feel so “not enough”. I feel like I want to turn myself into a Chinese mama… so I can love her better… so I can understand her better. So that we both don’t have to go through this helpless place where we know only time will bond us. I want to be her mom. I mean her birth mom. I want to be the woman who felt her in my womb and wasn’t forced to leave her in the drain of a military barrack. I want to be able to soothe her fears with my words and not just with my arms. I want to be able to teach her from the beginning of her life how dearly loved and desperately beautiful she is. Or at least be able to tell her over and over that she can do this and that she doesn’t need to be afraid, because the same God who brought us together will teach us every day how to be family. I haven’t had tears until I sit to write this and now they are flowing. I couldn’t figure out how I was feeling and now as I write, I know.
Last night we took Jessica to dinner with the Heddens. The Heddens live in Kunming and run the Bring Me Hope camps that Jessica and Katie were a part of this summer. They are spectacular servants of Jesus (to the point that Amy Hedden insisted on doing our dirty laundry, with only a washer mind you). We have fallen in love with them already. She talked the most at dinner to “”Uncle Tim” because she had already spent time with him back in the summer and was familiar with him. She hadn’t eaten when we had had McDonalds earlier and this was one more hurdle we felt we needed to make a dent in last night.
At dinner it became very apparent that Jessica has attached herself to her “Ba Ba” (Daddy). He was the one who got her to eat something and the one that she would absolutely not let out of her sight. David is totally wrecked by this girl. She did in 2 hours what I have been trying to do for 15 years :). He has been absolutely terrific as have the kids. Jordan and Nathan have both been so gracious to her. Jordan melted my heart last night when he asked “Dad, do you think she would let me help her walk?” She has quite a large leg issue and has trouble walking. He wanted a part in bringing her into the family. He said, “I can tell she already really likes Nathan.” Such a sweet oldest son, I have. Kate and Jessica played with stuffed animals on the floor last night before bed. The connection was the sweetest. Jessica will touch the side of Kate’s face every now and then (to make sure she is real, I suppose… we need that reassurance too sometimes :).
When we got to the hotel last night, we decided on sleeping arrangements. We have two rooms…one with 2 twin beds and one with a king. We decided that Jessica needs to be as close as possible for this first week or so, so we let her sleep between us. We made a bed for Kate on the floor and the boys slept in the other room.
Most older kids come to their families very guarded with many, many defense mechanisms built in to guard against hurt and disappointment. Our girl comes to us totally and completely vulnerable to the point where I know we are going to have to work extra hard to protect her. And this is a good thing I guess, but also scary and a weighty responsibility that I feel even after one day. Jessica took turns clinging to us all night. She whispered “Ba Ba” “Ma Ma” over and over in her sleep. She cried out whenever she wasn’t touching one of us. Her heart is wide open and it is broken. Mamas and Daddies do not like things that they cannot fix for their children. This is hard, but we are going to take it one day at a time. We have committed to lay down our lives for this girl and we live for the day when she is healthy and happy and free. Right now, she is maybe 80 pounds (barely skin and bones) of hurting infant. Even though she is 14, since she is letting us, we will pull her in close. We will give her all of the love that God pours into us and we will watch Jesus redeem. In all of this I realize that a promise was not completely fulfilled yesterday, our eyes were only opened to the greater scope of what has been promised. This girl is more than a girl, she is a testament to the glory of God…
Know this, what He did for others, He will surely do for you. Don’t rest in admiring God’s work in someone else’s life. Please don’t let this story be just another way that you can get a warm fuzzy. The world is full of people content to live on warm fuzzies from other’s lives. Please, please, please let this push you to get on board with God… fully on board. As in “I will obey You, Lord if it costs me EVERYTHING!” You can live here where we are living. You can follow Jesus into dark places and watch Him bring hope with your own lives, but you don’t just “happen” into dark places. You go there, on purpose in obedience to Christ…and then you get a close up, front row seat to the light that shines in darkness and brings people out of bondage. Nothing like it.
The layers are going to have to be peeled slowly, but love is breaking through, my friends.