It’s Been a Year

It’s been a year since this…


“I want to remember it all. The way I saw her walk in… I knew it was her even without seeing her face, just because she was the size I imagined she would be. The way she clutched my China necklace the moment they handed her to me, winding those little fingers in and out, in and out. No tears. Just quiet glances at my face when I wasnt looking directly at her. The way she sucks her first two fingers when shes overwhelmed. The surprising way it felt to meet her for the first time… a stranger yet not a stranger at all. The way I realized late last night that it already felt like she has been a part of our little family for more than a day… it feels not only like she belongs, but that shes been missing all along.

The room was chaotic. I think Alea might have been the only child not screaming in terror. And nearly twenty children screaming in one concrete block building with coordinators yelling above the noise creates an indescribable sound of sadness. Alea wasnt crying, but rather a bit shut down. She was taking it all in, but was clearly overwhelmed by everything.”

(Keep reading about the day Alea joined our family.)

And I’m so glad it’s been a year. A year later, and I can honestly say I am the one Alea wants when she is scared, tired, or hurt. I’m her mama now… and those roots of belonging to each other are no longer as tender and fragile as they were a year ago or even two months ago. Our bond is growing deeper and stronger day-by-day as we walk this journey of love out together… I’m discovering there’s something perhaps more fierce and powerful and deep in hard-fought love than love that comes easy.

It’s been a year since this…

“Visiting Alea’s orphanage was hard but good. We’ve been in lots of orphanages, and as far as orphanages go, hers is a nice one. We’ve been in many orphanages, but this is the first time I’ve been in an orphanage that cared for my daughter. And I can’t fully explain the way it felt to see her bed. To see her nannies. To see her little friends still waiting. I need more time to let it all sink in. One week ago, this was Alea’s daily routine. Sleep in one room. Play in another. Go back to the first room to sleep and eat some more. Repeat tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. And today I was in her room with 30 kids and babies who needed their mamas and daddies to come yesterday. Babies who will wait for who knows how long… maybe months maybe forever… for someone to come for them. 

Alea’s crib was still empty, and my heart soared, but it won’t be empty for long. I want to see all the cribs empty. None of them full. I want to see mamas pulling yellow hats over their babies’ heads on a cold winter day. I want children to never enter such a place — where even the most well-intentioned and loving caregivers can not possibly meet all the needs of the babies because there are just. so. many. — and for those who are there, I want them out. I want to see people step up and say YES to adoption… to all the fears, and terror, and uncertainty. I want more people to recognize that life isn’t about being safe and certain, but it is about loving others well. And these little ones have so much worth — so much intrinsic God-given value. They don’t know it yet, because they’ve never had their mamas and daddies sing it over them; or its been far too long since they heard it. But it doesn’t take long for the song to shape their souls and heal their hearts. Not even 3 days after joining our family, we are already seeing joy crinkle the corners of Alea’s eyes and hearing her cry out her needs — two signs she is learning that she is precious to us and to this world.”

(Keep reading about the day we visited Alea’s orphanage.)

It’s been a year, and I still haven’t forgotten that room full of cribs. And I still haven’t stopped wishing that more people would “step up and say YES to adoption… to all the fears, and terror, and uncertainty. I want more people to recognize that life isn’t about being safe and certain, but it is about loving others well.” This year has been a beating in many ways. I know I haven’t attempted to gloss over the challenges. But this year has also been beautiful! I LOVE THIS LITTLE GIRL! And when I’ve felt most afraid, most unable to continue — I’ve grown to understand the sound of the Father’s voice and know the feeling of His heartbeat more deeply in this last year than ever before. Sometimes God calls us into a place that doesn’t feel very safe, and sometimes we see that He isn’t very tame. But He is always so, very good. He has held our family together through this journey, and even knowing how hard it was, I’d do it again. A thousand times over.

A year later and Alea invites me to imaginary tea parties. She drags the chair to the kitchen counter and unloads my silverware tray at least 3 times a week, and yesterday I caught her with a coffee mug she had taken from one place in the kitchen to another, where she was attempting to get the Keurig to top her off with a fresh cup. She spontaneously recites the names of all the people she loves. She points out she sees Elsa, Anna, and Olaf. (Cora just shakes her head and says “Alea really likes Elsa.”) She loves to play in the sand box and read books, and she gives the very best hugs. Tonight we are taking her for ice cream to celebrate the day we became a family. A lot of “our people” will be joining us. A year later, and Alea isn’t a scared orphan with her whole world turning upside down; she’s a brave and tender spitfire of a girl who is right in the middle of a whole community of people who love her.

What a year.


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