Dear adoptive mama,
I see you staring at me from your place behind the morning buffet line.
Exhausted. Defeated. Covered in pork dumplings your child has rejected and thrown at you because his world is in chaos and he is in total, absolute freefall.
Feeling spent and broken after three more meltdowns, two more struggling-to-communicate temper tantrums and an entire afternoon of grief.
Worried sick about the medical challenges that looked so much easier seven months ago on paper and are now demanding more energy, time and care than you think you might be able to muster.
Wondering to yourself, What on earth have I just done?
I see you looking longingly at this tiny boy who became ours just six days ago — the one who this morning is so happy and delightful that he is kissing each of our cheeks and calling us by name and saying, “Xie xie,” each time we hand him a new food.
The one who, on this morning, looks like he’s already this fantastically-adjusted part of the team.
And I see the wheels of your mind turning, wondering what you must be doing wrong.
But sweet adoptive mama, we’re in the trenches, too.
Today, you see the bright-eyed, vivacious, giggly, happy boy who smiles all the way from his soul and lights up the room with his infectious grin.
You see a boy who calls, “Bao, Mama,” and lifts his arms high to be held.
You see a boy who is so sweet and so joyful, even after medical exams, doctor appointments and tests, that your heart melts like ours over this tiny superhero our whole team already just adores.
But what you don’t see, sweet friend, is what happened Friday.
When a day of packing and prepping and flying to a new province sent him into a tailspin that none of us could ground.
When, as we packed, he tore up the documents, ripped the in-room phone book, threw the landline phone not once but four times at the heads of his brothers and found markers he used to color on the carpet.
You didn’t see him reject us at the airport, where he moved from Mom and Dad to back again every few minutes, because the person he really wanted was neither.
Who was so mad that I was the mama taking him on the plane that he dumped a bottle of water on the floor of the airport and then, when I picked him up and placed him in the Ergo, head butted and spit at me violently and repeatedly until I had to take him out.
You didn’t see him crawling at the speed of light away from us with legs that, although they can’t walk, are so adept and fast that they got him from one gate to another before we could even turn around.
And you didn’t see what happened when I lifted him off the dirty floor where hands were already so black with airport foot traffic that we had to wash them again … and, bearing down on his legs with my hands in his, he screamed at the top of his lungs for nearly an hour and began head butting my lady parts … and, with a raging head ache and now one on the other end, I began to cry.
You don’t hear the hours of I’m-struggling-to-communicate whining that are the background music of our getting-up and going-to-bed nights, and you don’t see the exhaustion in our entire team’s spit-soaked eyes when we hit the sack at 7:30 p.m.
You don’t see how Super-Spouse and I, who may be holding hands today, were so physically and emotionally exhausted last night that we found ourselves ridiculously bickering over the cost of the local Italian buffet.
You, precious and exhausted mama, just see the mountain top our six-person team is now treasuring in this moment.
But mama, this journey is a rollercoaster, and it’s a second-by-second, trusting-Jesus-every-moment, relying-on-God-alone-for-His-strength wild ride. And whether today our boy is eating his breakfast or throwing it at me, kissing me or spitting on my face, please know this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
We’re in the trenches, too.
It’s just that this time, these trenches are familiar.
This time, we know where they lead.
This time, we know that these battles are HARD. That they’re sometimes LONG. And that they are the prepping grounds for the VICTORIES that are later to come.
This time, we have in our trench a boy who was HERE just three and a half years ago … and one who has been our best advocate for the little brother whose world is now in total chaos.
And as we fight from these trenches for this new boy we are committed to love on and care for for life, we look to our left and we look to our right and we see the EVIDENCE of what years of unconditional love can do.
It can transform hearts.
It can transform lives.
It can take a child so distraught and traumatized by the hard realities of his history and his life and transform him into a child so beautiful and loving and kind that HE is now the one holding, kissing and comforting a baby brother who is right now in his former shoes.
And we can see HOPE. And we can see LIGHT. And we can tell you for CERTAIN that this grieving superhero you’re holding right now is WORTH THE FIGHT.
That he’s WORTH these tears.
That he’s WORTH these long nights.
That he is WORTHY of this tough love that you are pouring and pouring and pouring out every minute.
This is hard and holy work, sweet mama, but you’re not in this alone.
And it’s in this village of Jesus-dependent mamas that we find our community and our strength to keep on keeping on.
Because it’s worth it.
Because these children who’ve never had someone to fight for them are worth it.
Because God already showed us with the cross that we’re worth it.
You’ve got this, sweet mama. We’re in the trenches with you.