Friday, August 1, 2014

God-Sized Dream: The Language of Goodbye

It begins the weekend before the scheduled departure, and I am carrying inside my chest a woefully unprepared yet prepared heart.

We have done this before; I remember it well, but I am not ready.

We have folded clothes into her suitcase and gently packed memories inside the tucks of our minds and walked sobbing through an airport with suitcases stuffed to the seams with clothes and the remnants of weeks of life together, our hearts stuffed to the seams with weeks of togetherness.

We've once before held our host daughter in our arms sobbing, this child who first came to us a stranger and who now leaves for a second time familiar as family because, indeed, she is; we've once before gently pushed her into the security line at the airport to board a plane back to her home country to rejoin her foster family. She is an orphan only by legal definition now, with two families that love her, our own wanting to love her forever.

Muscles have memories, yes, and about a week before we must do the dance of return yet again, my heart proves itself a muscle with an incredible memory, and it starts aching with that familiar throb.

There are tears shed beneath the cover of night while I lay next to her after we pray bedtime prayers exactly a week before she leaves. I am unprepared for the sneaky tears that rush to my eyes. She snuggles against my shoulder and consoles me, the way I consoled her when the tears flowed for her during the last week of her last trip.

We stumble into laughter from tears at the interruption of the whining dog at the end of the bed, who sounds like he might be crying, too. I love her like my own, and so I tell her. And I bid her goodnight.

Each day of our final week we understand more thoroughly and intimately that we are swimming against the current of a time that just keeps flowing.

So the laughter becomes louder. The bedtimes become later. The moments linger longer. The sentences dwindle shorter. The hugs return tighter.

This is the language of goodbye.

We remember it, and we remember it well. It transcends the native tongue, a universal vernacular. The ache is familiar, and the time fleets faster until there isn't much time left at all.

She stands before us in the final moments, and the brave face melts into lips quivering and eyes leaking for us each.

They are waiting for her in the line. My mother's heart wants to hold her just a little bit longer ... but the moving line calls time on us.

And so we move from embrace to eyes locked and the last words spoken in most every language of goodbye:

I love you.

I am stilled to silence as she moves through the line, turning around to wave every chance she gets until she becomes only a speck in the distance. I feel the weight of her departure heavy on my heart.

Muscles have memories, and my heavy heart finds itself deep in the after-ache of goodbye.

But again, it proves itself a muscle ... and it remembers something much greater than the ache that lingers in the wake of goodbye;

it remembers the language of love.

And so we speak it louder



until that is what is remembered most.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

God-Sized Dream: Fix My Eyes

A few weeks before we picked Eta up from the airport for the first time this past winter, a song I'd never heard before resonated in my mind and in my heart and literally followed me around seemingly everywhere we went as we prepared to host an orphan child for the first time.

Every time I heard "Oceans," I'd tear up and feel God whispering to my heart to be brave and keep my eyes above the waves — the waves of hosting unknowns, of welcoming a child into our family who didn't speak English, of walking into something we feel God called us to. Every time I heard it, I had this feeling wash over me that we were heading into much deeper waters than we knew ...


And were we ever.

Our first few weeks with this precious girl were beautiful and exhausting and emotionally charged. Gratitude overwhelmed our hearts and we marveled at how it seemed like we were made to be her family. It wasn't a coincidence that she declared this very song as her favorite after she heard it on radio for the first time this past winter. She listened to it over and over and over as our time dwindled this past winter, this song following me around as God prepared our hearts to begin the adoption process and invite her into our family permanently.

Since our girl boarded that plane in January, I've listened to this song often, and nearly every time my eyes well with tears as I try to keep my eyes above the waves.

Because it's hard.

It's hard to keep our eyes above the waves of paperwork and approvals and fundraising.

And right now.

It's hard to keep our eyes above the enormous wave of next Thursday.

After spending eight weeks together as a family during extended summer hosting through New Horizons for Children, our girl will board a plane back to her home country again.

And again, she’ll take with her even bigger pieces of our hearts. Everything is more this time around. 

There’s more laughter.

More fun.

More authenticity.

More testing.

More trials.

More snuggling.

More conversation.

More of our stories shared.

More of our hearts entwined and tangled together into a mess of heart strings that achingly tug inside each of our chests as we prepare to say goodbye again without being able to discuss any of our intentions.

I think she knows.

I think she knows that family is more than blood and shared facial features and genetics. I think she knows family is more than living together in the same house and sharing a bathroom. I think she knows we are her family even if adoption never happens.

And I think she knows that we are trying, in fact, to bring her home permanently.

Actions can often say more than words. If love does, than indeed we have done and continue to do day in and day out.

We wait now. We wait for USCIS approval. We wait for papers to be translated. We pray for a miracle that it will all happen within the next few days so we can ask her if she’d like to be part of our family forever and officially.

While we wait, I try to wonder at the beautiful God has woven of the broken threads in our lives — us three babies gone so soon and her, two parents gone.

 And I try not to wonder. I try not to wonder about the ifs and the hows and the whats. I try not to wonder about what she’ll say when we finally get to ask her to be part of our family. The wonder, both of them but often the latter, sometimes gets the best of me, and I find myself amid these big waves I just cannot navigate on my own.

In my heart I know that she will forever and ever say yes to us; we are her people.

But I know that she can say yes to us and still simultaneously say no to adoption. Because saying yes to us isn’t just saying yes to us. It’s saying yes to a new culture. It’s saying yes to a new language. It’s saying yes to a new school. And it’s saying goodbye to some very precious people who have cared for her in the midst of her own gigantic waves. And goodbye to friends and school and language and a culture she very much loves.

When I think about her saying yes to us but no to adoption, I get scared. That fear, it paralyzes me momentarily, and it knocks the wind out of me. It makes me turn inward and silences me. It makes me rethink pouring out more and more and more of myself.

It’s been doing that for the past several months now but especially so since having her home this summer. It’s no coincidence, either, that before she arrived for summer a different song began following me around, one that spoke to me despite it’s extremely poppy nature.

And it’s no coincidence that this is one of her new favorite songs, alongside Oceans, and she sings it at the top of her lungs every time we hear it on the radio:

"Hit rewind / Click delete / Stand face to face with the younger me / All of the mistakes /All of the heartbreaks /Here's what I'd do differently /I'd Love like I'm not scared /Give when it's not fair /Live life for another /Take time for a brother /Fight for the weak ones /Speak out for freedom /Find faith in the battle /Stand tall but above it all /Fix my eyes on You On You”
“My other favorite song, mom.”

I smile, and I sing along at the top of my lungs, our voices in unison.

And I fix my eyes.

To read more about our adoption journey or help us cover costs, visit Just Love.