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Heart of my Heart

I’m not sure if most of you know, but last year I adopted a little girl from China. I’d always wanted to adopt. I think it came mostly from knowing I had something (a family) and I could offer it someone who didn’t have something (a family). I could be their someone. A place, a home, a person to spend Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Easter with. Always. When I think about how some people don’t have that, it breaks my heart. I came from a family where I was the youngest of 5, so I don’t know what it’s like, but I can imagine it would be like a black hole. Empty. Scary. And so it was extremely important that when I got married, I wanted my husband to know that I desired to adopt. I just had no idea that would take me across the world. Fate is so hilarious sometimes.

This little girl was sort of picked for us. The day I called in to the agency to ask about a sibling group was the day the family who had her on hold for six months, had given her file back. They weren’t going to move forward. I was asked if I’d be interested. Sure. They forwarded me her file. I remember reading the special need: Down Syndrome and repaired heart. Granted I’d never been around someone with Down Syndrome, but after pondering if this was something we could take on, my family said, YES! And here she is. Home for almost a year.

Adoptions are vastly different from one another. One family can have a wonderful, fairy tale experience, and one can cry daily, asking why they brought this in their lives. The disruption can destroy families in some cases. It’s not for the faint of heart. There is so much trauma. Specifically, international adoptions carry with them the layer of living in an institution for all their lives. Transitioning to a family is HUGE. Depending on the orphanage, there could even be abuse. We got lucky. So very lucky.

Before we left on that 20 hour trip to China, I asked my husband, “Do you think it’s going to feel like we’re babysitting her?” I mean, come on…we’ve never met her and they just hand her off to you and say sign here and here. What connection do you have? As if asking how this is going to weigh on you, consider her. It’s ripping her from all she knows–a culture, a dialect, routine, food….what person would love any of this?

As I looked around the table at my kids today, my eyes settled on this new face–this tiny life that floated into our lives through a roll of pictures on a laptop and a sketchy medical record. I was in awe of how much love my heart had for her. How although she did not come from me biologically, she is completely entangled with every fiber of love I feel for her. She is no different from my other children. I might have flown to China to get her, but somehow she always held a place in my heart.

The day we met her, she looked into my eyes, threw her arm around my neck, and called me mama. Her tiny lips kiss my cheeks several times a day like that first week we met her, and she is constantly astounding me with how brilliant she is. I cannot imagine life without her.

 

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