We have now been home for 18 months with our Chinese princesses. Ragan and Renee are fully immersed in life in America. Their world is still small, but growing more every day. We continue to marvel that we have the privilege of being their Mama and Baba.
The joy of having our girls is without measure. And yet there is a measured change in our lives that is hard to gauge. Or describe. Tammy and I have been stretched like never before. We have been broken, challenged, anxious and confused. We have experienced love and grief in ways we never encountered in our lives previous to Ragan and Renee.
There are lots of smiles, tears, outbursts, rages, discoveries, discussions, laughter, arguments, grieving, confusion, misunderstanding, competition, clarity, closeness, pushaway, hugs, lies and confessions. There have been meltdowns, an attempted runaway, destroyed property, daily attempts to control and blatant disobedience.
There are many magical moments of learning, closeness, happiness, disclosure of the past, tenderness, and pure joy. It is a thrill to hear Ragan and Renee read the Bible in English, speak in complete sentences with correct English word order (most of the time) and grasp concepts. Along with their language skills comes an understanding of how to express their thoughts or feelings to us.
“I don’t understand love, Baba. No one ever loved me in China.”
“Mama when you pick-up Levi (grandson) I get kind of jealous. My birth Mama never picked me up and held me.”
“Mama, when you tell Baba about what I do wrong, I think you are trying to get him to be on your side and not like me anymore.”
Such words grip our hearts and help us realize the task at hand. We so want our girls to love us, trust us, obey, practice good manners and treat one another the way they would want to be treated. Yet we realize that a life of love, trust, nurture, stability, protection and provision was trumped by abuse, neglect, distrust, chaos and vulnerability in each of their lives before adoption. Their natural instincts have been fight or flight, coupled with hypervigilance.
It would be easy to paint a sanguine, rosy picture of older child adoption. It would also be deceptive. The rosy field of adoption is also a minefield. The most seemingly harmless step can trip a hidden mine. Some of the mines are duds; others cause harm. But it is worth every step, because we know that the battle is not ours, and the story is not being written by us.
We are so thankful to our merciful God for leading Ragan and Renee to place their trust in Jesus Christ with child-like faith. Thankfully we can appeal to them on a heart level, trusting the Holy Spirit to work in them and bring understanding to them. We are delighted that they are our daughters, and pray that we will practice patience and gain more insight into each of their hearts so we can love them still more.