It will take several installments to bring you up to date on all that has happened over the last month. It hardly seems possible that only a month has passed.
On January 8th I departed for Zhengzhou for the long-awaited and greatly anticipated adoption of our sweet Wen Fei. This is a little girl whom I have known for eight years…since she was just four years old. Sweet and funny, smart, observant and full of sunshine, she has waited so very long for a family -- she was the last of her group of friends to be adopted. Her new parents are friends I have known for about 14 years. By chance (or by clever ticket buying), I joined them on the train from Beijing to Zhengzhou to share in their special day.
I am not sure I am competent to fully communicate the anticipation of adoption day; only those who have experienced it themselves can really know the butterflies in the stomach, the little pangs of uncertainty, the catch in the throat each time a group of children come into the room, the tears that well up as mothers and fathers look into their child’s face for the very first time. Even as a bystander in the process this time I was not unaffected. I felt all those feelings again, and perhaps a little envy that this time I would be leaving with empty arms. As luck would have it, WenFei was the last to arrive, so her parents and I were able to enjoy, over and over, the moment when 16 children left their orphan label behind. And then she arrived, climbing the steps with a bit of help from the adoption worker from her orphanage. I get goosebumps again remembering the moment she saw me standing in the hallway and with a big smile flew into my arms. We hugged and laughed and hugged again. I am so thankful to her parents for allowing us this moment to say hello and in some sense to say good-bye before I introduced her to the people who will be her mom and dad forever.
For the rest of that day and part of the next we laughed and talked about her other friends already in America, and what would come next. Wen Fei, now Julie, meshed seamlessly into her family and quickly began the process of capturing their hearts. Her trademark smile never faltered, despite this total upheaval of her life, going from the known, the expected, the routine to the unknown, the unexpected, the ever changing, her happiness and absolute trust in this new future was evident.
Too soon it was time for me to go. That brought a few tears to both of us, but I assured Julie I would visit her in America in just a few months. Before catching my train for parts further south, I spent a few hours visiting Swallows Nest, a small foster home program which has been operating in Zhengzhou for more than ten years. Pam Williams, the founder, is a good friend who mentored me in my early years of managing a foster home, for which I am so so grateful. Pam recently asked me to serve on the board of Swallows Nest, and I gladly accepted. (For more about Swallows Nest: www.swallowsnestzz.org) It was great being in the foster homes again, interacting with children and watching how the caregivers respond to them. At lunch time I was handed a bowl and spoon and put to work -- exactly what I love to do! This was the perfect confirmation that it is time for me to be back in a direct care role, even though the children I believe I am to help are older than the babies and toddlers at Swallows Nest.
Come back tomorrow for more about the journey.
Photo by Shelli Craig Photography.
About This Blog
Part documentary, part family chronicle and part personal reflection as I try to sort through the ups and downs, the joys, heartaches and surprises of our life and work as we follow the path that God has set for us here in China!
Kristen to continue to adjust to college life and find good friends.
Donna to have wisdom in planning and implementing new programs for the youth and for financial provision to cover our expenses.