Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Letter to the Birth Mothers of My Sons

Dear birth mothers,

你们好!I don't think we will ever have the opportunity to meet face to face (although I wish we could) so I wanted to let you know how much our family has been blessed by the gifts of your sons, 丁一凡 and 华明安, we named David and Daniel. They grew up in the Lanzhou Orphanage “like brothers” and we were able to adopt them together while we were living there in October of 2013, when they were 7 and 8 years old. So many people tell us what great smiles they have, and I wonder if they got their smiles from you.

David recently drew a picture of his Chinese mom in his life book for his English as a Second Language class. I noticed the dots all over her face and I asked if those were tears. “Yes,” he said. “I think she must have felt very sad to leave me at the hospital.” “I think so too,” I agreed. So although David doesn't know much about you, he does believe that you loved him and I'm sure that you still do and probably think about him often... 

Daniel frequently asks if I will read the Jesus Storybook Bible to him, and a few days ago as we were reading about Jesus' birth, he said, “I wish I was a baby.” “You know,” I told him. “I bet your birth mom held you, just like Mary held Jesus, after you were born.” “You???” he asked me with surprise. “No, you had another mom who gave birth to you, and later I got to become your adoptive mom.” “Oh,” he said with a question mark on his face, and I know he's still pondering what that means. Ever since his brain infection just before we adopted him, he has struggled with developmental delays and memory loss. So as he continues to process this idea of having two moms, I will keep letting him know how much his birth mom really loved him and wanted the very best for him, just like David's.

Because Daniel doesn't remember a lot about his life at the orphanage, David has filled us in on some details. He knows, for example, why Daniel has scar on his forehead because he witnessed the fight when another boy pushed him into the corner of a door. I remember the time last year when David told us proudly that he has lived almost his whole life with Daniel, first as friends and then as brothers. Even though they are almost exactly one year apart in age, when they joined our family 3 ½ years ago, Daniel had become like an infant in a 7 year old body.

Because of the brain damage from his illness and the 6 days of being in a coma, he had to relearn all of the basic life skills that he'd lost. David eagerly volunteered to help spoon feed him and assist him as he learned how to walk again. Even now he still offers to read to Daniel and help him tie his shoes. Most of the time he is a caring older brother who understands Daniel's limitations. After they both had major surgeries on their feet in February, they enjoyed having wheelchair races together. And now that they are walking again, one of their favorite things to do is to play basketball against each other.

It has been a joy to watch them grow and develop. But to be honest, being an adoptive mom has been one of the biggest challenges I've ever undertaken. Likewise, I can only imagine that leaving your precious boys in the hospital, so that their medical needs could be taken care of, was one of the most difficult things you've ever done. I still struggle sometimes with feelings of doubt that I am a good enough mom for them. And I imagine that you might still struggle with feelings of doubt that you made the right decision in leaving behind those tiny lives that you nurtured inside your bodies.

I hope that God has given you peace about that life-changing heart-wrenching decision, and I want you to know that I am thankful that you gave our boys the gift of life and cared for them in their first weeks.

We have a bird's nest in the wreath on our front door right now and this morning we were watching some videos my husband found online of house finches like ours hatching from eggs, being fed by their mothers and fathers, and then leaving the nest. It struck me how fragile the baby birds were and completely dependent on their parents. Their wide open beaks crying desperately for food, and then—just days later--they looked more like their parents and were ready to fly on their own. Daniel asked as we were watching, “When the baby birds fly away, do they need their mother and father anymore?” 

The picture of baby birds being fed by their parents has stayed with me and caused me to think about how you must have mothered our boys when they were newborn, fragile, and helpless. When you felt you couldn't care for them anymore, you put them in a place where you knew they would be found by someone who would take them to the orphanage. Neither you nor I got to see them “grow their wings” with their first crawl, their first steps, their first they were living in the orphanage during all of those milestones (although we were actually able to experience Daniel's 2nd round of those firsts). Our sovereign and gracious God had His hand on them during those years, like a protective wing, and He guided them to fly into our home when His time was right.

I want to wish you both a happy Mother's Day and thank you for bringing our boys into the world. David and Daniel are both very happy living in America, but Chinese food is still their favorite, especially 兰州牛肉面. I wish all of us could go out for Lanzhou beef noodles together. I'd like to see how much spicy you put in your bowls, as they pride themselves in being able to handle a lot of hotness. And I'd also like to see their smiles reflected in yours.


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