On May 4, 1998 Chad and I became the proud parents of a beautiful 18 month old Chinese girl. Our lives were changed forever. The strange part of our adoption was that we actually had interaction with this child before we knew she would become ours. We had met her a few short weeks before we took her home. I hadn't allowed my heart to fully love her quite yet, but as soon as we stepped out of the orphanage, hailed a dirty red taxi, and made our way to the Friendship Store to buy diapers, I knew there was no going back. Chad and I instantly referred to each other as Mom and Dad, and our new little Esther had a death grip around both our necks.
Once we made it home, the first stop was the bath tub. She had 18 months of gunk in her toenails, and eau de China in her hair.
When I look at this picture, it reminds me of how stressed she must have been. She knew us from the time we had played with her and fed her in the orphanage, but I'm sure she was wondering who in the world we were and why we had taken her from the only home she knew and why did we stick her in this weird container filled with water.
And, why the man we wanted her to call 'Dad' was washing everything so thoroughly. I'm sure she totally gets Chad's cleanliness now. :)
She had a contemplative look a lot for the first few months. I'm sure she was trying to make sense of her new life. I often wondered if she struggled to keep the memories she had already made, words she had come to understand, familiarity in the only faces she had known in her small orphanage room.A quick way into her heart was through a ball. Some things never change.
My friend John recently wrote a blog about his newly adopted daughter's birthday. He talked about how most adopted people are overwhelmed with thoughts of their birth mom on their birthday. Esther and I have had extensive conversations about her birth mom. We've prayed for her together many, many times through the last 12 years. Because I know Esther is a child who prays, I'm sure she has prayed for her birth mom more times than I can imagine. What has surprised me is how much I've thought of her birth mom through the years. I've speculated about her age, her occupation, her beliefs. I've chosen to wholeheartedly believe that she has continually thought about her little Chinese beauty that she chose to leave at the police station in a basket with an expensive blanket lined with money. I know she grieves as each year passes knowing that apart from a divine intervention from God, she won't be able to meet the child that she gave up 14 years ago. My prayers for her are for peace and comfort, that somehow in her spirit she will know that her tiny baby went to live with a family that loves her deeply and accepts her as a full heir with their birthed children.
Every year on Esther's birthday at least one person asks me if it is her "real birthday." I'm never sure how to answer exactly, so on good days I offer grace and say, "To us it is!" As we celebrated her first birthday with us, two years old, we were wide-eyed, joyful, so thankful that God saw fit to put this precious child in our lives,that he entrusted us to parent her, love her, nurture her.
We are so blessed that Esther is such a lovely young lady. She is responsible, caring, funny, smart, even-tempered (most of the time. She is 14, after all), loves her sisters and brother deeply, looks after people in need, wants to have people over for dinner every night, loves her community, prays constantly, asks good questions, and is a delight to Chad and me. I can't imagine my life without her. Maybe that is one of the reasons I think about her birth mom so much. She is living her life without this sweet, precious child that has so enriched my life. I will continue to ask the God Who Sees to give her hope that her child is loved, valued, and cherished.
Happy 14th birthday, sweet Esther! We love you more than you can imagine!