Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Looking for a Reason to Hope?

Many of you know our family well and many of you are new to our little clan so before I even begin, you must know that all the beautiful girlies above are not mine! : ) We have just returned from a weekend away reuniting with 8 of the 9 families with whom we traveled to China three years ago. I cannot possibly tell you how important these amazing families have become to us since that life-changing trip.

Adoption is, in and of itself, an amazing experience. For Mark and I, we both felt deeply that adopting from China was what we MUST do... it was a calling for us and God was very clear. With three children at home, we left for China with no expectations about friendship and a life already full to the brim with family and friends. We were going to bring home our daughter and were thrilled about that alone. We had no idea what God was getting ready to do.

For two (long!) weeks, we wandered through China in awe of the country and the blessing that had been bestowed upon us. The whole time we were there, we spent day and night with 8 other families who also adopted babies from the same orphanage as our daughter had lived in for nearly a year. All nine girls were born within 2 weeks of each other and all were made members of brand new families on the same day. Yes, God had a plan there and during that time, he began to weave together almost 50 people into something new and wonderful and, as it turns out, necessary.

We came home in December and immediately after the holidays, we found we just needed to get together again. So, off we drove to Lexington, KY to spend a few hours together with as many people from that trip as could make it on that day. We did the same thing again that June... and then we saw something we had not really even known to look for in our girls. As we stood at our agency's reunion, we began to notice the girls had some connection to one another that was clear and different from anything we had seen in them before. They remembered each other. I saw my daughter tenderly rub the back of another of our girls. I saw her relax and connect and reach out. Us mommas spent some time scratching our heads and wondering at it all and then by the end of the weekend, we had to ask ourselves what we should do with this connection? We wanted to honor their history with one another but how do you really do this? There are no books to give guidance on how to encourage your daughter's friendship with people she learned to love during her first year of life. We had a lot of questions and wondered if it really mattered? How should we proceed?

Well, truth be told, we just didn't know but I can tell you this, we felt that it would be best to find a way to help these 9 little girls have this relationship... even if we were busy, even if we didn't understand it, even if we were living in in six different states, even if we had more questions than answers. And so we made a decision, at something that felt an awful lot like a family meeting, to gather quarterly as much as we could.

It has been three and a half years. We are still gathering. I am amazed at how it has worked and how commited we are to these quarterly gatherings. I am even more amazed at how exceedingly important this has been to my daughter. I am in complete awe at how God, in His wisdom and compassion, has woven together a new family to add to our very full lives... and how much I love this family!

Are you looking for a reason to hope? My friends, look at that picture. Eight of our nine girls stand side by side. All of them had a hard start to this life... but God had a plan. God had a vision. Look at those smiles! Look at their hands, clasped together in friendship. Look at how God works miracles for those who seem forgotten. We knew, when we started all of this, that we would come home with the daughter that God had planned for our family. We thought that was His plan... but do you see what we see? God's plan is always richer, always broader, always more colorful than we can possibly see. Surrounded by our China family and with our daughter's hand in ours, hope is really clear... it rings in little girl laughter in our ears.

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