27 January, 2015

one year... can it be?

It has been a whole year from this life changing day (and one week —thanks to my delay in posting this!). In one years time a great deal has happened and the journey has been filled with so many celebrations and a lot of hard things. Ian and Jovie are amazing children who have their own little opinions, personalities and a whole history before us that we don't even know about. It has been incredible getting to know these little people that I call my own. We have introduced them to so many new thing, celebrated family traditions, holidays, vacations, and had many firsts together.

This day a year ago Ian and Jovie were terrified, heartbroken and we were strangers. On this day, I don't just celebrate the day that we got our son and our daughter; this day that I had waited and dreamed of... I celebrate the distance we've come. I know that Ian and Jovie have lived more time away from us, than with us. We are bonded, we are whole-heartedly one family, and today Ian and Jovie know what family means. They have received a year of our unshakable, unbreakable, constant love. In a year, we have seen them transform. We have seen them come to trust and have confidence, learn to rely on us, and grow to have a deep attachment with each other, and a strong affection towards us. I'd like to say we've moved mountains in a year...

In March last year, I wrote about Mae's famiversary and the tradition we wanted to do for our children. We want to celebrate who they are and how they add to our family. Adoption is not WHO they are... and this day is not like a birthday, but is a milestone nonetheless. It is a day that is special and a day to look back on... much like Cody and mine's wedding anniversary.  But I want to be careful in our talk about adoption that it isn't an identifier for them. God created Cody and I to be together, but being beautifully and uniquely made by him is a separate thing. Mae, Ian and Jovie will have a story that is different from their classmates and friends, and when their friends meet their mom and dad for the first time they might be surprised we aren't Chinese too. I hope that these precious babies will understand the importance of WHO they are, the incredibly amazing children created by a loving father. We all have a story. We are his, all adopted by him.  And that maybe they aren't so different.

So, back to the tradition for their "famiversary" or "gotcha day"... back in March, I made a list for Mae, of characteristics of her personality. I wanted to do this because I believe so much of who we are as a child remains the same into adulthood. And won't it be neat to see how they stay the same, and what might change? This is the list for Ian and Jovie. It made me so incredibly happy just doing this exercise, and I encourage you do this for your children.

10 Characteristics of Jovie Ming

10 Characteristics of Ian You 

 We went out to eat authentic Chinese food (absolutely delicious!) and afterward we lit two lanterns to send off for Ian and Jovie.  A sky lantern is essentially a small hot air balloon made of paper with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended. A long time ago the lanterns were used as signals during wars.  Now they are commonly used for Chinese festivals, for good luck and to send wishes skyward. I love doing this because it is bold and beautiful. As we watch the fire float away in the sky it is a magical. It will fly up to one mile high, and travel for miles in whatever direction the wind decides.  Watching it light up the night sky and float away is breath-taking. This time we made sure to emphasis we were sending it off and saying good-bye to the lantern. Mae was so upset last time that she didn't get it back agian.

And as the lanterns float away, I pray for their hearts... and will continue to. Almost every week we are stopped in the store by a stranger that tells me how lucky they are, and every time I respond with "we are the lucky ones". I don't think they will feel like they won the lottery, like people seem to think. At the moment they found this family their pasts weren't erased, one adoption decree didn't solve everything. Yes, they have a family (a quite good one, actually), they have parents that would fly to ends of the earth for them, and they live in America.

But the truth is, they will grow up without ever knowing their birth family, who they look like, and even their medical history. They are Chinese but have already forgotten their first language. Just a year ago they had a whole life without us: a routine, friendships, and people that were daily in their lives that we know very little about. They will undeniably have questions about who they are and why they were given up... and we will do everything in our power to help them find the answers, if that is what they want. I pray that the missing pieces would be filled with the Holy Spirit. That the one thing that they would cling to is that there was One with them from the moment they took their first breathe. One that created the fabric of who they are, that knows every hair on their head and can wipe every tear.

What a powerful thing that is for a mom to fully understand. Their hearts are precious, to me, and I know to God even more so. I can try to shield them from hurt, I can grow them up surrounded with love and acceptance, have discernment to know what to say to them, and teach them to guard their hearts... but in the end the most important thing I can possibly do is to introduce them to their Maker.

Isaiah 41:10  fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The truth is adoption is a wonderful, but tragic thing. It is not without heartache... and I don't believe luck has anything at all to do with it. 

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