This time of year will always be filled with nostalgia for me.
It was four years ago this month that we received word that after 2 years of waiting
we had been matched with a baby girl in China.
Once we were given her basic information and a few photos we had 8 weeks
to prepare for travel. It was a time that is so dear to my heart.
Friends and family showed up to love and support me in ways
that still overwhelm my heart and my mind.
In China it is common for the waitresses to hold your baby while you eat.
She walked all around the restaurant with her and even out into the kitchen
so the cooks could oohh and ahhh at Lilly.
To say they love babies in China is an understatement.
In the United States we never pick up a stranger's baby.
In China, they do it all the time and if they think your baby is
underdressed for the weather they don't mind letting you know.
Many buildings in China do not have central heat and they bundle their babies
in many layers. If any skin was showing on the babies they were quick to tug and pull to cover
up the exposed area. Remember...these are strangers on the street but they care about these babies.
I found it charming to no end.
I made sure Lilly was totally covered not only to protect her and keep her warm
but also as a sign of respect to the people we saw each day.
Their concern did not annoy me or make me feel judged.
It made me feel cared for.
A rural village just outside of Nanchang.
People were clearly poor in terms of money but looked rich in contentment.
I just loved all the color and aliveness of the streets in China.
I was surprised at how at home I felt there.
I was not ready to rush back home and found myself wishing for more time.
I was scolded by the store manager for taking this picture.
It doesn't matter if you speak the same language...
you KNOW when you are in trouble!
I LOVE this picture.
It really does speak 1000 words, doesn't it?
A beautiful dress we had made for our princess.
Such a good Daddy...introducing her to a food that is still her very favorite.
Just like her mama!!!
Mommy and her little girl.
Lots of mommies and their little girls!
All women that are now my dear friends.
The blessings were greater than I had imagined.
More people to love and be loved by.
Our guide Dennis.
He chose the American name Dennis after Dennis the Menace.
This man could carry passports and birth certificates and dossiers and cash
in a backpack and make it seem like a day at the park.
Something that would turn me into a crazy person.
I would have had to check my bag 100 times to just 'make sure'
that the papers I just checked on were still there. I tend to make my
traveling companions a little nervous with all that checking
and yet they know I always have it covered.
Her first bath at home.
Home....what a word.
Lilly's first Christmas.
Any gift wrapped in paper will pale in comparison to the gift we recieved that Christmas.
I remember arriving home from China on the 16th of December
and having no presents for my older kids.
So it was off to the mall with my new baby in her carrier.
I was sitting with my mother in the food court giving Lilly her first taste of pizza when I
started to become aware of everyone around me. I saw one family in particular that really stood out.
They were still in their heavy coats, there wasn't a smile among them. The husband was grumbling at the wife and the wife was grumbling at the kids.
They were laden with bags and bags and bags.
Full of stuff.
I guarantee none of it was important or sacred in anyway.
I suspect it may have been paid for with plastic.
My thoughts were a combination of sadness, frustration and maybe a little anger.
How have we gotten so far off track?
How is it that one day I am standing in my daughter's first home...
Cribs that were filled up the very same day they were emptied with
little girls leaving to go to their new and forever families.
Filled up with more babies without parents to love and protect them.
Shards of glass around barred windows.
Clothes drying over bushes because they had no clothesline.
And no heat.
And not enough food.
I don't propose that I have a solution but it sure does make me think.
What is that we could be doing that we are not doing?
How could we shop for useless things when
babies don't have food or families?
How do I inspire people to action without making them feel guilty?
So many questions....not enough answers.
But I will continue to ask and hopefully live my way into
serving this calling on my heart.