Four years ago I fell in love with a daughter that I believed God had sent to my heart (and I still believe this, but I have also come to understand that His plans aren’t always what we believe them to be, too) and I spent all of my waking hours imagining the day I would hold her. I imagined what it would be like to cup her little face in my hands and tell her that she would never, ever be alone again. To bathe her, not in the hurried way a momma cleans her babies before bed, but in a tender ritual kind of way, washing away years of orphan, dressing her in the clothes of a daughter. Bringing her home. Watching her grow. My days were filled with imagining, and my nights were filled with dreams and visions so real that I could feel her little palm in mine and smell her warm skin. The scent of frankincense, native to only Ethiopia, would randomly follow me and I would smile at God’s reminders. I have never leaned so much into the holy spirit as I did in the years that I waited for Magnolia to come to our arms. Every few days I would write to her in a journal, numbering the days since we decided to adopt her. I sewed a doll to represent her in our family pictures. I dreamed of the day that I could show her that during our long, long wait her presence was felt. She had a family before she knew. We loved her.
When I saw your picture, I decided that I could not fall in love again. There would be more sadness on our journey, and also big lessons that brought peace, but for all of my short comings, my momma heart is relentless and I knew that if I loved you, too, and never got to know you, that it may be the loss that breaks my heart for good so I promised myself that I would remain neutral and trusting that God is working here, but also firmly standing in the reality that anything can happen from “yes” to the trip home.
In fact, I tried to escape you. I said “nah… I just don’t think we can…” and God dug into my soul so hard that I couldn’t stay strong in my own desires to protect my heart. I woke up from a terrible sleep to watch your video one more time, and your little head cock when the nannies call your name was just too much. I melted. I sent your video to Dad. It was done. We knew.
But still… I’ve tried to focus on the minutia and not the big picture. Fill this form. Get this signature. Buy these supplies. Email this person. Send this money. Every few days, I sneak a peek at your little cocked head and crooked grin but I remind myself… it’s not too late for your heart to be crushed, Stephanie. Proceed carefully.
Last night I realized how close to June we are. And whatever was left of my resolve just melted away. Sometime soon… weeks, maybe less than a month, we will board a plane and fly into a place where we don’t understand the language, climb into a car, arrive at an orphanage and meet our son. That’s you. You are our son, no matter how much I try to protect my heart from the possibility that a government may decide otherwise, my heart already knows. After six months of putting one foot in front of the other, it’s almost time to put our feet on a plane and I cannot believe it.
When I would journal for Maggie it would often be because my heart would feel impossibly heavy, tears would come and I wouldn’t know why. I could feel her need me, and I believed that one day our stories would overlap, so I kept the record for her to know that I felt her heart and wrapped it in mine. I still, without any doubt, believe that. When I stand back and look at the road that the Lord has led us down, I believe that He showed me that motherhood isn’t always forever. I believe that Maggie needed a mommy who would be bold and love her fierce, from afar, for a period and I know, also without a doubt, that I was the mom for the job. Years ago I felt it placed hard on my heart that one of us would forever miss this baby girl, her first mommy or me, and I knew I could accept that it was me. Ultimately, that is what happened and for that I am so thankful. God didn’t take anything from me or break any promises. I will forever choose to believe that Maggie was able to stay with her mommy, where she belongs. But I did ask God that if He decided to send me any more unknown children to love that He let one come to my arms… seems fair to me 😉
So I bought a journal for you and my heart cannot override my mind for once. Every time I put pen to paper I feel silly and wonder how many journals for children I never get to hold I will keep before I stop being so silly. I started this family blog as a way of keeping track of the journey, but last night I felt the first twinge of walls breaking down and the desire to document FOR YOU. I woke up with a wet face from tears I didn’t know I was crying and when I looked at the clock, I realized it was morning where you are. And you were starting another day without a family. And I cried some more, thankful that those days are numbered.
I sat on the couch this morning with the boys… we call them the twins, by the way, so I guess the three of you will be the triplets…and saw the space where your little body will sit, too. I was filling cups and bowls with milk and cereal and realized how much I can’t wait to fill three. I cannot wait to see your little face in the adorable outfits I picked for you in my moments of hope. I cannot wait to see all of the ways that your crazy siblings make you smile that crooked smile. We just can’t wait to get you home, son.