Oh y'all. These have been some of the sweetest moments of my life. Definitely on par with the birth of each of our children, the day The Engineer and I said, "I do," and the day I came face to face with the inescapable love of Christ.
Monday, May 5, 2014…I woke early and spent time in the Word and journaling…the children crawled into bed with us and we prayed for our sweet boy. Breakfast…back to the room to blog and finalize our list of questions for the orphanage (when does he eat, how often, etc.)…the gathering of gifts, etc. Finally 2pm came and we made our way to the hotel lobby. I stood in that vast space - it's gorgeous! I breathed deep, trying to stop the tears that threatened to spill over. I looked around and the lobby was filled with people from ALL OVER THE WORLD and I wondered if that wasn't a tiny taste of the makeup of heaven. People from every tribe and tongue. Other families gathered. You could spot them coming…each had arms laden with gift bags and a look of nervous excitement and anticipation.
Our guide arrived. The drive to the Civil Affairs office was twenty minutes...in the rain. We rode the elevator to the eighth floor and waited…our guide reported our little guy hadn't yet arrived. A few minutes later the children shouted, "Mama! It's him!!!" And there he was, in a carrier worn by the orphanage worker. He was grinning, dressed in orange. They disappeared into a curtained room so she could dress him in traditional Chinese clothing. Minutes later, our names were called and we were ushered in front of the curtained door…and he was brought to us.
I thought my heart would burst. I took him in my arms and we all touched him and called him by his new name, and the name his nannies called him, "Dong Dong." He never cried, but looked overwhelmed…we completed the paperwork, asked our questions, and the orphanage worker gave us gifts…a little back pack for our son filled with two outfits and two pairs of socks and two bibs, a can of formula and rice cereal, the bottle he used in the orphanage, and a replica of a well known statue from the city in which he spent his first 14 months of life. The girl was so kind and cried as she told him, "Bye" and we carried him away. What an encouragement to my heart.
He is quite a trooper, definitely a "fighter" as our surgeon stateside referred to him. (The children misunderstood this and thought he possessed special Kung Fu powers…being from China and all. Ha ha ha!) The poor little guy (henceforth referred to by his Chinese name, "Heng," if you can imagine a cross-pronunciation between "hung" and "hong,") has a double ear infection. One ear was oozing infection and he has pulled and picked at and rubbed both…he's also cutting a tooth…the boy is in pain. I'm wondering if he's been in chronic pain?
Until this afternoon, he only cried when we did ear drops and the first day or so, he would freak out if he thought we were taking his food away. The first day we had him, he ate so much food I thought he'd pop. Because of his cleft, he's still taking a bottle mixed with rice cereal and is eating congee - it's like watered down grits with bits of meat and veggies…the boy ate a HUGE bowl and drank an entire bottle!
He loved his bath. I loved his bath! Sister donned her suit and joined Heng, as well as Little Man. The three of them had a blast playing in the tub. The stacking cups we'd brought were a hit! He loved them! And then he had that fresh baby smell!
We gave him half a bottle more and around 8pm, he fell contentedly asleep in The Engineer's arms. We transferred him to his crib and didn't hear a peep until 8am.
I'm learning how to feed him - it's a mess! But we are figuring each other out and it's getting better with each feeding. I think he's trusting us more each day.
The day he became ours, as we waited for our turn, we watched other families open their arms to these orphans and give them a home, a family, and I could not stop the tears. One family will forever stand out to me. They already had a Chinese daughter, probably around 10 years old…and they were adopting a little boy who was around 7. That little boy's face was BEAMING. He kept throwing his arms up and spinning in circles and shouting things in Chinese and then running to his new family and throwing his arms around them and shouting more in Chinese followed by, "Mama, Papa!!!!" Y'all - he got it. He was an orphan. They chose him - over all the other little boys - they chose him! He was so excited! He was so happy! He'd been adopted and given the full rights of sonship - what a BEAUTIFUL picture!!! THAT is the Gospel!
Thank y'all for rejoicing with us. This is a sweet time for our family. We miss the little girls something fierce! I can't wait to hold them and kiss them! I can't wait to ALL be together! And we are thankful to be here. Thankful for the ways God broke us…thankful that He is sovereign and good and knows what we need. I thought we'd have completed our family by now…biologically…and we'd have had our children boom, boom, boom - close together…and His plans weren't ours. He is the giver and taker and our precious Heng is fearfully and wonderfully made. He is beautifully knit together in his mother's womb. He is created with great intention and love and we pray God is glorified in and through his life.
My heart swells with thanks as I think back on the years we spent praying, pleading with God for more children. He'd placed that desire in us, and though the desire never waned, He didn't provide like we expected. The years of heart ache and disappointment. The seasons of empty arms…celebrating as friends welcomed babies, all while my heart bled with pain and hope deferred. The hope we held for nearly 18 weeks…the loss that left me breathless. All of it - our ashes. Our pain. And all of it - every mite - He used. It was all part of His beautiful plan. He weaves our lives together like a beautiful tapestry…and the back side is ugly and knotted and it's often all we see. And here I sit, in Guangzhou, China, with my 14 month old baby boy asleep one room over, and with an 8 month old baby girl waiting for me at home…and I scarce can believe how full our arms are! How full our quiver is. He makes beautiful things out of us…out of our pain…out of our disappointment. And His timing, however frustrating it may seem, is perfect. We stand amazed. In awe. And thankful. Thankful for the pain.
I have loved watching the older two love him and welcome him. They haven't missed a beat. There's never been a question or doubt or hesitation…Heng was placed in our arms and Sister and Little Man surrounded him. I'm so thankful they're here. I know his transition has been easier because they've been here…to giggle with him and to play with him, to sing to him…to play with one another…to splash in the tub...their presence has been a huge blessing!!!
As I cradle him in my arms, I sing, "Jesus Loves Me" and I whisper to him that he is wonderfully and fearfully made in the image of God. I tell him that God has a wonderful plan for his life. I tell him he is loved. Again and again and again…in English and then in Chinese. And I pray he will never recall a day he didn't know the love of God.
Enjoy the video below…pictures and footage of our first day together. (Sorry - it's not working on mobile devices…)