Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When You Were a Baby Girl Born in China.....

.....and lived in the countryside, you were probably born into a very poor family. So poor in fact that your parents could not keep you. This part of Jiangxi, China was made of beautiful rugged mountains yet most people didn't have electricity or running water, even though it was 2005.  You may have been a second born but the problem were not a boy. That means your parents could not afford the high fines to keep another baby. Because of the one child policy in China it was about $12,500 USD to have a second baby. Most people in this part of China lived on $600 a YEAR with 1/3 of that amount going to purchase coal in order to heat their houses during the winter. 98% of people where you are from don't have an education past the 8th grade, especially girls. Keeping a second child or even a first if it were a girl was simply not an option for most peasant families. Because your birthparents loved you, you survived. Many don't. Girls are oftentimes considered worthless mouths to feed, while a boy brings honor to a family's lineage. Being born a girl in China means tough times are ahead, sometimes even death.
     When you were a baby girl born in China, you were put in a box and left at the gate of the county orphanage in the secret. See? Your birthparents wanted you found! They took you to the safest place they knew! Sometime this day an orphanage worker found you and took you inside. You weren't even a week old yet....this girl. No one knows but you how long you had to stay outside alone until you were found. You would have been placed in the baby room in a bamboo or wrought iron crib. There would have been a mat or board to lie on but no mattress. There were ropes attached to the crib to tie you down once you got active. This was not considered abusive but the cultural norm in order to take care of so many babies at once. You would have been fed a watery formula propped up on pillows with a giant hole cut in the nipple. The nannies although they tried their best, could not hold and make eye contact with all the babies all the time. You would have cried. No one would come. You would've wondered where your mommy was and why you were left all alone in this place. There were other babies there in this big room. Almost all of them were girls....there for the same reason as you. They would become important later in this story.
     When you were a girl born in China you lived everyday in this orphanage and you grew older. There were no toys. The summer was blazing hot with no air conditioning and the winter brutally cold with very little heat.  You lay in your bed all day, everyday. Sometimes the nannies would put you in a walker but not very often. You had a wonderful orphanage director. He wanted you to have a better life. He knew if he did certain paperwork you might have a chance at a future .....a family might be waiting outside those orphanage gates for you, so he sent lots of forms to Beijing with your picture attached. Then you waited......
       When you were a baby girl born in China, you did not know that God was speaking to a family in Florida. This family already had alot of children but felt that their home needed one more shining, sweet face. God had told them about the hardships little girls faced in China and how many times parents had no choice but to abandon their girl babies. There was a window of time where these girls were made available for adoption, then after this they would permanently live their lives in an institution....only to be turned out at age 18 with no where to go, no one to help them and no skills for finding a job. Many of these girls ended up in the sex trade or as child factory workers. This made our family more determined than ever to make room in their home. Our family believes that when God says care for the poor, needy and the orphan those are not just suggestions, but actual commands from the scriptures. God spoke to us to 'hear the cry of the broken' because you see.... God's heart is for the poor. He rescues the weak, and He's the mender of the broken. The call on this family to go was loud and clear. We believed God was calling us to be the means for one of these girl babies to find her way to safety, and hope of a future. You see, when you rescue just one of God's weak children not only are you changing the course of their lives by providing for them in this generation, but the cycle of poverty is broken for generations to come. You would be given proper food, care, love, and something not easy to come by in education for a girl.  Before you were even born we were doing lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of paperwork to ask China if we could bring one of their daughters to America to be raised as our own. China said yes!
       This family flew 20+ hours across the North Pole to go and get you....while you were still in China and waiting. You were driven 4.5 hrs. on your first car ride to Nanchang, Jiangxi and into a giant government building. The nannies waited with you until our name was called. One moment you were an orphan, the next you belonged to a family! It was wild! You came to your family very, very sick and covered with scabies. When you were a baby girl in China you had no idea what it was like to be held, fed as much as you wanted, bathed (!!), have soft blankets, clean clothes, and a fluffy mattress. Immediately from that time on you had all of these. You refused to eat anything the entire time we were in China with you (partially because you were so sick).....until we bought you ice cream. So, that's what you got because that's what you wanted...$6 Haagen Daz bars. When you were placed into our arms you were just shy of being 11 months old, yet you could not even sit up by yourself. You wore size 3-6 month clothes. Because you had never had any toys to play with you had learned to configure your hands into all sorts of convoluted contortions and held them up right in front of your eyes. It was really strange and had your parents worried. Then you did what so many do on sensory shut down. You would have to learn over the next year or two what love was, what trust was, and how to really live instead of just exist. It was really hard for you. The brain does funky things with neglect and as we were to learn, our greatest challenges lay ahead. 
      America welcomed you as a permanent citizen. You found out you had insta-sisters, a brother and low and behold, a nephew only 10 months younger than you! Little did you know that this baby boy would become your BF over the next few years and you would share a very special bond. When you were a girl born in China you probably had no idea the brain does funny things when it has something called 'disruptions'. You did the best you could but attachment to adults was something you had never done. There was no one to attach to where you came from.  Now you were 'home' you didn't understand. You were angry. You didn't like us very much. You had something called RAD (reactive attachment disorder). It took you a very long time of constant interactions and work for you to begin to trust the adults in your life. These adults were not going to leave you. Ever. You just didn't know it yet, so you fought back while your brain worked through the grieving process it needed to. That was ok because these adults were seasoned now for you were their 5th child and their 3rd adoption. They were patient and waited for you to love them back. And you did but it took you a very long time. With adopted children sometimes it is so hard to determine when it is a child's personality, DNA or an attachment or developmental issue talking. Many times it was all 3 at once and discernment became like needing food to us. Coming home with you was probably one of the hardest things your parents ever did because you struggled for so long, and you had a 3 yr. old sister and a special needs 4 yr. old sister. But you know what? We had no regrets and would do it again in a heartbeat. The path to Godly obedience in never easy and is often laden with trials and difficulty. We needed God's grace every moment of every day those first years.  Soon after these oh so hard days of little sleep, not knowing if you would attach, and additional medical needs, your dad was in an accident. He was hit while riding his bike by a driver talking on a cell phone.  For a while our world went dark.
     He's the mender of the broken. God. He brought us through when we were nothing but broken. It was all God because it was so overwhelming. We were humbled, and He gave us strength. God has restored you and has knitted our family back together in miraculous ways. Today you are the most incredible 7.5 year old on planet earth! We love watching you be a vivacious, talkative and friendly second grader! You are part of a school that has a remarkable percentage of like minded families and that is FULL of adopted kids like you! God is so kind that he even put twins in your class this year that look alot like you!! Even your teacher lived and taught in Asia! You have blown us away with your ability to focus and work through difficult. At almost 8 years old you are only 44" tall (the size of the average American 4 yr. old) and it makes you so mad! However you have discovered you have a talent for gymnastics and are learning all the skills to compete at Level 4 soon! That fierce determination will take you far little girl! We have no doubt that this little baby, left in a box in the middle of central China was meant to be our forever daughter. You have taught your parents what it means to live sacrificially for the good of others. You have taught us that laying down our lives for the gospel of Jesus means physically giving of yourself until you have nothing else to give. It is a raw, fierce kind of unconditional love. You have taught us how to love when that love isn't returned. This is the kind of love I imagine Jesus having for each one of us. You love anyway. Period. You taught us unwavering, undaunted patience. Patience is a calm undercurrent in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Patience isn't afraid to wait.
       Those little babies in that orphanage with you are now part of families that have become some of our dearest friends. From the farmlands and dirt roads of Taihe, Jiangxi came 8 little girls who now live in various parts of the United States. We still see them as much as possible because these are chords that are not easily broken both with the parents and the girls.

     There are an estimated 87 million orphans on this planet at this current moment. You are no longer a statistic but have been brought out of darkness into a full life of love, nourishment and hope. Adoption is to us, the most tangible demonstration of the gospel lived out in daily life in this fallen world. We could not be more grateful for you, our daughter and all you have taught us in your years as our child. Every night we get to tuck in a miracle......a living, breathing heartbeat that now readily gives as much affection as she receives. Oh, that took a long, long time to get to that place! So, when you were a baby born in China.....surrounded by mountains and rice could've anyone imagined this? That little baby, taken from everything familiar and the only home she ever knew. That little baby that was so scarred, terrified,  and wouldn't smile for what seemed like years. Actually, it was! That little baby whose brain was so detached and unable to love is now firmly rooted and grounded in the Grace that only God can bestow. God knew we needed you....not so that you could change but so that you could change us. Keep thriving little Mei Mei! You will do great things, no doubt!

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