Y'all…there just aren't words. Heng is such a precious gift. I'm astounded with the ways the Father is showing us His strong, determined, inescapable love for us as we extend love to our precious son. As each day passes, our bond to one another deepens and grows stronger. I closed the bathroom door a few nights ago and he burst into tears. Each night, he falls asleep in the safety of our arms.
Thursday was rich. In every way. We left early in the morning for Heng's orphanage. While we weren't sure what to anticipate, we were sure this was something important for him and for us and it was something we definitely wanted to do.
It was a three hour trek and I was amazed and I think, surprised by how beautiful the city is. It's one of a handful chosen by the Chinese government and named a "Garden City." (Above you see a canal that feeds the South China Sea!)
I'm not sure what I'd imagined it would look like…
But this wasn't it. It was so developed. So beautiful.
The drive was long and Heng slept for a good portion of it.
And upon arrival…I'll never forget…they were waiting for us - the two ladies who handle all the paperwork for the orphanage. And they called out his Chinese nickname and he grinned…ear to ear. His eyes lit up!
They invited us in and we passed out a few gifts and made our way to see the rooms where Heng spent the first fourteen months of his life. It was nothing like what I'd expected. As we crossed an open air area, one of his nannies saw him and shouted his name and again, he lit up. She ran to us and took him in her arms and he was delighted. She joined us and carried him as we made our way to his room…and then all his nannies came running and shouting his name and they were passing him back and forth and going on and on about him. There were two social workers there - they were so excited to get to see him again and took him from one of the nannies. He was all smiles. The social workers took pictures of themselves with him…and while all of this was going on…I was trying to keep my eyes on Heng, and at the same time, look around the room.
My heart broke. And I had to fight tears. So. Many. Babies. And so many were sick babies in that area - children who are so severely disabled, they've been deemed "un-adoptable." That image is seared in my heart. I hurt for them. And I mourn over our sin and its devastating consequences. We were told the majority of the really disabled babies will live out their days in that orphanage (it's actually a "social welfare institute because they care for all ages…birth to the elderly).
As the pictures wound down, they placed Heng in his crib and he LIT up! He stood there for a bit holding on, grinning ear to ear and then collapsed in a corner of the bed. I pulled him out and we made our way to the next room…and the nanny he was closest to took him from me and placed him in a walker and fed him lunch.
Y'all - they loved our baby. They loved him well. God has been so gracious. So many have prayed for this little boy…I am so thankful for those women. And I am so thankful he is no longer an orphan and now has the full rights of sonship.
It was sweet to see him enjoy being with his nannies…and then to see him reach for me. They cheered when he did that. In tears, I asked our translator to thank them - for caring for him and for loving him well. It was a sweet day. It was a hard day.
As we left the orphanage, a little girl, probably about six or seven, was walking in. She stopped and stared at us. It broke my heart. I wondered what she was thinking. Is she still clinging to hope?
Friday held a trip to the police station to apply for Heng's passport and yesterday we had his medical exam. He passed like a champ and passed out in my arms close to the end of everything.
Going for the medical exam is kind of crazy. There were families there from ALL OVER adopting. It was unreal. And I couldn't stop the tears. There was a cute couple, adopting a four year old little boy. Their biological son is nine months younger. Both of them work with special needs kids. Their adopted son had braces on his legs. The tears spilled as I watched them hold their son's hands as they walked him from exam room to exam room…and then his tears when he had blood drawn and his daddy picked him up and cradled his son and the boy buried his head in the safety of his daddy's neck.
There was another adorable couple adopting a little girl who wore the cutest polka dot tights…she cried and like so many, found refuge in her daddy's arms.
I stood, with Heng sleeping on me, along a back wall and just watched. I watched child after child melt down, reduced to tears, finding refuge in their daddy's arms, burying their heads against their daddy's necks. And I thought of my heavenly Father…and the confidence we now have, as sons, with full access to the Father.
The big kids made it through the medical exam like champs, too. And we took them swimming as soon as we got back to the hotel!
The water is, um, FREEZING!
I am blown away by how grown-up and mature this girl is becoming. She's laid it down again and again for her new little brother! There's another couple we've become good friends with over the course of this trip. They've adopted a little girl with whom Sister has fallen in love. She's made their little girl all kinds of surprises…pretty much, Sister just amazes me.
Little Man has done super well, too. He's shown himself mature in ways that have surprised us. I was concerned how he'd hold up in another country…on another time zone…on the other side of the world and with strange food. He's handled it so well. Today he and The Engineer feasted on sushi and duck…I'd say he's adjusted to international travel just fine. (wink, wink)
It's also been precious to see him loving on Heng. There's quite an age gap…and there's so much love.
This is totally NOT the story I'd ever have written for our family. It's so much better than anything I could've imagined.
I know we're still in the honeymoon stage in many regards. And goodness, we are down two children right now. And The Engineer is with me 24/7, so I'm not even managing three on my own. I'm not cooking or cleaning. I am washing clothes by hand in the bathtub…but, I know. It's not reality.
When people ask me how in the world we are going to "do it?" When they look at us like we have a third eye...I have an answer. It's the same thing I tell myself every time I start freaking out when I think about reality…about an eight and fourteen month old…"God's grace is sufficient. His mercies are new every morning. When He calls, He equips. There will probably be a lot of tears (on my part). And in about two years we'll surface and take a good, deep breath." Lord willing.
I miss my little girls so much! It will be so sweet to be reunited! Five more days! That seems so short…like the time has flown.
Today is Mother's Day. Even in China. And I wonder about Heng's mama. I wonder if she sees all the Mother's Day fanfare and if her arms ache? I think about her a lot.
I wish I could see her, tell her - somehow - how thankful we are for her beautiful son. To thank her for giving him life.
I wonder if she bears the physical reminders of pregnancy. Does she look down at the stretch marks that cross her belly and wonder about her son. I wish, so badly, that I could assure her he is loved and cared for.
Mother's Day is all around us. A sweet celebration for many, and for many others, a raw and open wound.
Happy Mother's Day. To my mama and The Engineer's mama. Happy Mother's Day to all you mamas with little ones and big ones and in between ones.
And to my sweet friends whose arms ache for a(nother) babe - I'm praying the Lord comforts you in a special way today. May He gently sustain you with His grace.
From Gunagzhou, China, Happy Sunday, y'all!