Three years ago we walked into an orphanage and met two little boys. We had loved these boys from afar for months but to them we were complete strangers. One child rejected me continually for almost our whole time in Ethiopia. The second? He ran straight into my arms and seemed to relish in every moment we spent together. Was it love at first sight for him like it was for me when I first saw his face on our computer screen? No, not even close. He simply mimicked what he'd seen other kids do, followed the instructions of the nannies, knew we'd have gifts for him... the list of reasons he ran to me could go on but love? It didn't make the list. Not even close. At least not yet.
We danced. Love grew, fears abated, changes happened, anxieties grew... often time we forget while in adoption that while there is a day where all the legalities happen that single date changes nothing. It takes time for love and trust to grow in brokenness and despair.
The dance continued and at times felt like a fight. A fight to win the hearts of children that had already lost so much, a fight to knockout the disbelief of their worthiness and earn their trust. Each day we worked to show them that we were different, we wouldn't leave them and we would always be their safe place.
How has it been three years? I remember everything about those first days together. The feel of their faces in the palm of my hands, the bony arms around my neck, the inflections in their voices as they giggled are all imprinted in my mind and on my heart. My heart was overflowing with love and joy when we met Thomas and Samsel.
So full yet so broken. People don't often tell you that when you enter into adoption, particularly older child adoption, that you are entering into brokenness. Brokenness in the heart of you child, brokenness in a system, brokenness in the world. Adoption also quickly revealed all the brokenness in me. Brokenness that so often feels unredeemable; simultaneously a mountain you can't scale and a valley you can't climb out.
But this brokeness, it is redeemable. Today, as I watched Samsel race pedal cars and Thomas jump in piles of hay, I was thankful. Thankful for sunglasses to hide the tears and thankful that redemption is coming. Smiles and laughter, playing with friends, snuggling against my leg... it hasn't been an easy road, but it's been a beautiful one.
In the car on the way home from our field trip Samsel belted out these lyrics
When You don't move the mountains
I'm needing You to move
When You don't part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers
As I cry out to You,
I will trust, I will trust, I will trusnt in You.
In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. Ephesians 1:7
Love isn't the answer but it changes things. Families aren't perfect but they make a huge difference in the life of a child without one. Redmeption isn't easy. You may feel battle worn and weary. But when you catch a glimpse of it, when you taste the sweetness of redemption in your spirit, you know that the fight, the struggle, all that ugly will someday turn into something beautiful.