When God Loved our Son. I can’t say who loved our son the first two years of his life. But God did.
Giving birth is different than adoption for sure. I’ve done both. So for those of you who have never given birth, let me assure you – some things are exactly the same. The feelings of overwhelmed happiness mixed with extreme terror are normal. The fear of not being enough, or being too much – also there. On the day we met our son – the fifth time we added a child to our family – I was surprised to feel all of the feelings again. I didn’t know what to expect and felt like I was entering the labor room, but instead of a baby, in came a toddler.
In a rush, before I even could whip out my phone, they brought him into the room. It was room on the first floor of the orphanage. A board room, filled with huge oval table and about fifteen chairs. In the room was our guide, a photographer, and two of the directors from the orphanage.
A young woman, no older than my sister in her twenties, carried him in. Our boy. A smile tickled at the corners of his mouth. Curiosity. It was all over his face. The empty, glazed eyes were missing from his face. It was only a look of seriousness mixed with mischief. Immediately they introduced us as “mama” and “baba” (mommy and daddy). He has never called us anything else. My heart didn’t have time to feel fear. Instead, a small little bit of relief and then they handed him over to my husband in a flash. He clung to Jason, looking around at everyone staring at him. His teacher, who had been holding him, spoke to him in Chinese. His eyes disappeared when the smile exploded on his face. We were in love. In that moment we didn’t know him. In that moment, we were handed a stranger. A little boy who had two years of history we would never fully understand or even know. In that moment, we welcomed him into our family and into our hearts.
This time I was prepared. I didn’t feel the overwhelming love for him – and it was normal. I knew I loved him because I was choosing to love him. The deeper, lasting, love is the choice to love. And the feelings would come. So we made the choice to love this little boy in that orphanage on a sweltering June day.
My daughter taught me love isn’t about feelings. Love is about choices we make with our mind and our heart learns to follow. I know the feelings of love will come, because they did with my daughter. She feels like my child. She IS my child. I love her just as I do my biological children. I love her exactly and 100% the same. So the expectations this time around have shifted.
I will love this little boy just as my other children. It doesn’t matter the feelings. When my husband handed me my son, it doesn’t matter if he “feels like” my son. He is my son. And boy was he heavy. They weren’t joking that he liked to eat. Solid. They had him dressed in an orange tee shirt and gray sweatpants. On his back was a red Toys R Us backpack with suckers, diapers, and wipes inside.
The first thing I did was touch his hair. It was cut short, buzzed almost, but the softness stood straight up on his head. Next, I kissed his cheek. Soft and fluffy. He arched to get down. We sat him between us as we filled out paperwork. Well, we mostly just signed our names, placed our index finger on a red ink pad and sealed our signature with a fingerprint. We were his legal guardians. It was done. In a quick moment, we were headed out the door. We stood in the front of the building, inside the lobby and took pictures with the directors and his teacher. He left us then and reached up to his teacher. He called her “mama” and I knew we had work to do.
It was a little bit of a relief that it wasn’t perfect. I didn’t feel jealous that he wanted his teacher. Instead, I felt a sudden sadness. I felt sad he would have to say goodbye. That she would have to say goodbye. It was in those moments I realized how complicated and painful, and hard adoption is. It is beautiful, but it is hard too. As we were asking questions about his favorite foods, toys, and routine, a couple of his other nannies walked into the room. He called out to them and smiled.
He is popular here, said one of the directors.
I recognized the nanny pushing a wheeled laundry basket towards the elevators. I had her picture on my phone. I had prayed for her. He reached for her, and she held him for the last time. I almost let a tear slip out. She was smiling and laughing, but inside – did she feel a sadness? Our sweet toddler didn’t know enough to be sad (yet). She said goodbye. I felt again the pain of adoption.
We walked outside. An older gentleman guarded the door, and he lit up as he saw our boy. Of all of the people saying goodbye to our boy, this man was the man to show the sadness. Jason said he saw him wipe away a tear as we were leaving. Children from another class entered the orphanage from being outside. They all wore the same large blue teeshirt, and marched in a line. Children around six or seven years old all gave the old man a high five as they walked into the building. I realized this man had seen our boy, loved him, and spoke to him everyday for two years. So yes. Tears are understandable.
The days after we received our son were filled with some tears, but mostly smiles. He was loved. It was the biggest takeaway from visiting those people and that place. He was loved, cared for, and knowing the state of many other places, I can say it is a gift from God.
Not only was our boy loved by his caregivers, a Heavenly Father loved him. I began praying for our son before he was even born. And our Father, who sets the lonely in families began working from the beginning. I prayed our son would be loved. God answered my prayers.
I thought, even if his nannies didn’t love him, God did. Our Heavenly Father loves him. So if my son askes me in the future if his birth mother loved him, or the people who cared for him loved him – I can’t answer for them. But I can answer this: GOD LOVED HIM.
I pray I can teach my son that God’s love is enough – no amount of earthly family’s love will fully satisfy, but God’s love can. God’s love can fill the gaps where others missed. God’s love can heal wounds made before we were born. God’s love can give us the forgiveness we need, the acceptance we crave, and the joy we are missing.
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