He’d been asking me for two weeks if I would cry.
Public tears are not prevalent in Chinese culture, and, until he came to our home, I don’t think this sweet boy had ever seen someone cry for HIM.
But when he saw me break down in our kitchen two weeks ago and Miss Mackenzie explained to him in Chinese that I was crying because 1. I was a crazy American and 2. I would miss him, his eyes lit up. He wrapped his arms around me, and he gave me one of his newly discovered running-jump hugs.
And from that day forward, every night as I tucked this sweet boy into bed, after bedtime stories and prayers, he counted down the days until he would board an airplane and Ayi would cry.
“Ayi ku la?” he would ask as he grasped my face in his hands and examined my eyes for tears.
“Thursday,” I kept telling him. “Ayi will definitely cry on Thursday.”
And on Thursday, I just couldn’t stop.
I cried as our superhero vaulted out of bed and dressed in the same red shirt he had worn the day we picked him up.
I cried as he bounded into my arms, wrapped his arms around my neck and asked, “TODAY Ayi ku la?”
And I cried as we approached the group of three other Atlanta airport families who, like us, were just trying to hold it together long enough to get their sweet superheroes back on planes in a busy airport that had seemed a whole lot more exciting and inviting just one month ago.
I held it together long enough to squeeze this boy tight. To tell him about all the plans I know his God has in store for him. And to remind him that he has a Father to the fatherless who goes with him wherever he’s at. That we love him. That we believe in him. That we will be PRAYING for him. That he can be bold and courageous because the Lord his God goes with him.
I don’t know if he understood a word, but he smiled. And then he brushed my cheek and observed as the tears flowed yet again. And there in that moment, he looked the most content, the most satisfied and the most LOVED of his entire trip.
Because SOMEONE finally loved HIM enough to shed TEARS.
He beamed. He hugged all five of us. And with a final happy “Zai jian!” he waved, turned and walked down the airport corridor and toward his new life.
We celebrated. We grieved. We rejoiced. We mourned. And then I cried and cried some more.
When Superhero 2, who has the sweetest and most tender heart of all, broke down bawling and asked if he could please purchase an Atlanta keychain shaped like a “D” to remember the host brother he picked up there.
When we counted to three instead of four when loading up the SUV at the airport.
When Superhero 3, who sometimes cries for pain and occasionally cries when he gets in trouble but who has NEVER cried from raw emotion, cried for the VERY FIRST TIME in two and a half years in our home because he was SAD. And wept uncontrollably for DJ for more than an hour of the drive home.
When there was no boy in Superhero 1’s bottom bunk counting down the days until I would cry.
It was absolutely brutal, and it tested this mama heart in ways it has rarely been tested before.
But OUR tears are a small sacrifice for this boy who will NEVER AGAIN have to shed tears wishing and waiting for a forever family.
Anyone worth loving is worth crying over.
It’s WORTH these tears.
It’s WORTH these first difficult moments.
And it’s WORTH this heartache for one boy to KNOW for the first in his life that he is LOVED.
These tears mean these boys in our home have loved passionately and given freely. And although THEY won’t be the ones to enjoy the up-close and personal return on that love and investment, they will get the privilege of watching from afar as a little boy they taught to love LIKE A BROTHER gets to THRIVE in the context of a forever FAMILY.
THEIR no-holds-barred devotion has watered the love seedling in a 10-year-old boy and allowed it to blossom into something beautiful. Something PRIMED for a forever family to plant, water, nurture and grow.
It won’t be easy. There will be hard days ahead. We’ll probably all cry again today as we use DJ’s catchphrases (“Do you like it?” and “TRASH!” in his fabulous Chinese accent are among our favorites).
But when we’re mourning, when we’re grieving, when we’re wondering if this heartache we are feeling is WORTH it, we’ll look at THIS.
The photo that DJ’s new mama texted me yesterday … when she TOOK HER VERY FIRST PICTURE WITH HER BRAND NEW SON.
Because in a move only GOD HIMSELF could orchestrate, DJ’s layover was in Chicago — his new forever family’s home town. And when her family moved forward with DJ’s adoption, they also volunteered to be the airport coordinators for the Atlanta group and their layover transition in Chicago.
And there, she held the boy we all love so much, for the very first time in a lifetime of holds to come.
THIS. THIS is worth it. HE is worth it.
One less orphan in the world — it’s all worth it.