Who is Like God?

Right now I feel like I am in the middle of reading a really sad novel and all I want to do is turn to the last page to see how it ends. I want to see what I hope is the redemption and the happy ending, but in order to get there I have to first trudge through the murky waters and swamps of sadness. I wish I could say that today was better, but we’re still in a dark tunnel. I know there is light at the end of it somewhere, but it’s nearly impossible to see yet. Just when I wipe away what I hope is the last tear for a while something sets it off again (like reading all of your comments and messages of encouragement today!) and I am just a big mess at the most inopportune times. I really am not a crier (though I doubt anyone here in our travel group would ever believe that!), but this stuff is enough to make a grown tough man weep. I can neither confirm nor deny that for my husband!

Today was “adoption day”. I got all dressed up because in the past, it was a happy picture day in front of the adoption sign at the civil affairs office. There was no happiness, and there was no picture. Xiao Mei cried through the entire process of signing away her life to us and giving up the only life she has ever known. In a three way struggle of trying to communicate with her, the director and the guide who translated, she was able to tell us that she did not sleep well last night because she misses the director so much. At this point, we literally would have taken out a loan to be able to take her back to visit the orphanage (they told us it would cost at least $2,000 USD to travel there) and her friends one last time to show us her life there and say a final goodbye. We were able to communicate to her that we would do what she wanted- whatever would help her to make her feel better about coming with us and leaving those she’s loved behind. She told the director that it would make her too sad to go back again. She is so brave. All I can think about is Grace, my biological daughter of this same exact age and what this would be like if it were her in this position, and it breaks my heart into a thousand pieces. The nanny and director were strong and stoic to try to help make the transition easier for Xiao Mei, but we all had a wad of tissue in our hands trying to get the formalities over with.

She had a little more trouble with the 50 states puzzle...

Puzzles and paper dolls helped ease the awkward time at the civil affairs office.

Our plan was to leave the civil affairs office and have lunch before heading back to the hotel so Xiao Mei could rest. What we should have done is gone straight back to the hotel because lunchtime was a mess. On top of it we were dining in an odd midget restaurant that we had to duck to walk through upstairs, and the chairs and table looked like a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I’ve learned to just expect the unexpected here, but it was uncomfortable enough even physically to try to sit down and deal with the situation. Our guide was still with us initially, and Xiao Mei began tearing up again and asked if she could call the director. This lady and the rotating nannies are the only mamas she has ever known and she is heartbroken to leave them. Our guide offered to let her call right then and there, but she refused- I think she just wants to know that she has the option later and that the connection will not be lost. (Side note: when we got back to the room later we did let her call with the number we had and she was able to speak to her. It actually seemed to cheer her up for a few minutes and I think it helped just a bit to get her to trust us some). Before we had even ordered the guide was trying to comfort both me and Chaela. This probably sounds corny, but I really feel like the Lord is allowing me to morph into some E.T./Elliot relationship and I’m experiencing her emotions right along with her. Neither of us could eat, and both of us were feeling carsick on the ride there. We are just a hot mess. Our guide is coming by our hotel room later to bring some calming tea for Chaela (and I think I might snag some, too) so that she can sleep tonight. She is so exhausted!

It doesn’t help the mostly somber mood here that before we even headed to the 8:15 AM appointment we ran into the lady in the travel group who is adopting the little boy on the ventilator and she told us more of his story. ┬áThis little guy is 3 1/2, the same age as my sweet Griffin, and he is in complete cardiac failure. His list of medical conditions is a mile long, including a cerebral hemorrhage and he isn’t even expected to make it home alive- if he does, the doctors say it will be a miracle. She told us that if he has to go, at least he won’t go alone and he will be held and loved in a family for a short time. Joey and I both were a blubbering mess before we even got in the van to head to the adoption day appointment. Then, on the way there, our guide told us that just recently she served her first family who adopted a baby that was left by their birth mother with a note. It was an apology note that read: “I am so sorry I cannot keep you. I love you and I want you to find a good, loving family and for someone to take you where you can be adopted” accompanied by a gift for the finder to motivate them to take care of the child to hand her over to the government orphanage. Our guide said every other child she has seen adopted is left with no note at all (none of our children have had one), because it is a risk of getting caught. One couple in our travel group was heading to the train station to see their new daughter’s “finding spot”, and the other couple’s new baby had been found in a public bathroom. This is total “raw footage” and not for the faint-hearted. I have a strong man by my side and for that I am thankful because today my heart is faint for sure.

WE broke away from the group to avoid some "sitting around and staring at each other time in another gov't office".

We broke away from the group to avoid some “sitting around and staring at each other in another gov’t office” time.

I am trying to look for any sign of improvement and glimmer of hope, but I think it is just too soon. There were two moments today where she made brief eye contact with me and gave a hint of a smile. As we were heading out of the civil affairs office after saying goodbye she looked up at me briefly and there was a slight air of confidence and hope- I can’t put it into words, but I have to believe it was there! The other time is when I tripped and nearly fell down on the sidewalk. I’m glad my clumsiness is at least good for something. She was also given a backpack of some belongings, which I think really helped. There is still something that is familiar and “hers”- in fact, the most frequently discussed topic at the Civil Affairs office was how cold Xiao Mei must be in what I had her dressed in. When I gave her the cute leggings and tunic to put on this morning to match the other girls, she looked confused as to why the pants were too short. She kept trying to pull her socks up and her pant legs down so they would meet. Fashion is not a priority for the Deep South of Yunnan Province apparently. The director and nanny took her over to a corner and began layering her clothes, so on top of the outfit I put on her (which did have a light jacket), they put fleece lined jeans and a sweatshirt and then the jacket back on. I am really not making a good impression here! Our guide told us that the rural orphanages like Chaela’s are not like the city ones (Carrigan’s). She said they love the children and treat them well and that the director was an honest and good lady. I know that is true because she actually brought us change today for the cake that we had sent to Xiao Mei back in September! It was the equivalent of about $4 and she remembered and brought us the change. Unbelievable!

This is probably really disrespectful.  We don't care!

we stumbled across this really cool Budda temple!

I know that with adoption and foster care and loving the orphan we are not just dealing with mere people and government systems. This is largely a spiritual battle. I’m sure I have lost some readers at this point, but I believe the Bible and I believe with all my heart this is the case. The enemy wants nothing more than to keep these children right where they are where they are easy prey without a family as God intended. I feel like we are trying to drag Xiao Mei up from the depths of the enemy’s grasp and in order to do so we have to get right in there and fight for her. A fellow adoptive mom that I became friends with when she was adopting her aging out son last year sent me encouragement today in the form of Psalm 77. It is a chapter about crying out to the Lord for help in your day of trouble. Verse 13 struck me: “What god is great like our God?”… The name Chaela means “Who is like God?” I can feel the Lord carrying me through this by your prayers and encouragement and I hope Xiao Mei can in some sense, too. I pray someday her testimony is a light to others of God’s grace in bringing her through this and into not only an earthly family, but into the family of God through Christ. What an amazing story I hope that will be!