Three years ago in a non-descript civil affairs office in Guangzhou, China, Tammy and I met Liu Ling Xiang (Ragan) and Yang Le Shi (Renee) for the first time. Face to face.
What had been a dream that turned into a goal that turned into a paper pregnancy … became reality. The two souls we wondered about, cried over and prayed for now stood before us. We were parents. Again. Two orphans were now our daughters.
Three years have changed us in ways we would’ve never anticipated. No matter how we tell the story of these three years, it cannot capture what it is like to live it. (well, except for all those who have done likewise) Since it has been three years, I thought I would share the experience of three different pieces of our story.
We had the training, read the books, took the tests, talked with others and prepared every way we knew how for older child adoption. The day-to-day, minute-to-minute challenges of loving, caring and attaching to Ragan and Renee broke us in ways we never imagined. Our girls’ experiences of loss, abuse, abandonment, lack of education and institutionalization have scarred them deeply. We will never know the depth of some of those wounds.
We are amazed to see what ends up lacking in children that are not loved, nurtured, taught and cherished from the womb. The emotional struggles with trust, truth, and control are myriad. There is the lack of logic processing, feeling, and relational adaptation. Though Ragan and Renee are now 16 and 14, their EQs are closer to 8 and 10. They desire the nurture they see around them, yet push away out of fear that it may not last. They rage out of fear without being able to articulate why. One of our girls stated it clearly a couple years ago — “Nobody loved me in China.”
BUT – God has been so merciful. It is an amazing experience to hear our girls read, help them learn, and watch them try so very hard to fit in with their peers. It is a joy to hear them singing hymns of praise, knowing that three years ago they had no working knowledge of a living God. They have made the jump from two years of home school to ‘out’ school. They want to succeed in school and (most of the time) apply themselves to their schoolwork. And they have drawn closer to us in trust and attachment.
God has been merciful in sustaining us and strengthening us in the midst of the emotional, financial and spiritual struggles these past three years. He has shown us over and over again the truth of His words, ‘Do not be afraid…’ ‘Trust Me…’ ‘Abide in Me…’ We never run out of things for which to give thanks. In particular — His saving work in all of us.
We have always believed in prayer, practiced prayer, and have seen answers to our prayers (all three answers — Yes, No, Wait). We have never experienced answered prayer like these past three years. We see the results of the power of prayer from God’s people on behalf of our girls and us. We have seen God work in ways that can only be explained by His response to petitions from His people.
It has driven us to our knees more often, and with greater purpose than ever before. For others. Our talks with our Father have never been sweeter. Though Ragan and Renee are still learning and wondering about this prayer thing, we anticipate the day when they will be able to look back at this time of their lives and understand how their heavenly Father works with His children.
We have said it often, but it bears repeating — we needed Ragan and Renee more than they needed us. They needed a Mama and a Baba. We needed our hearts worked over. They needed someone to love and care for them. We needed to be intentionally poured out.
We would do it again.
God is writing our stories. We are thankful for His saving work in us. We are thankful that we can be used as conduits in God’s redemptive work in bringing beauty from ashes. We are thankful for the faithful prayers of His people. And we praise God for His mercy.