"Be that as it may, my Father knows best, and I'm confident that He has placed me here; my task is to labor quietly until the pillar cloud removes and leads farther, working out God's purposes in God's time." -Jim Elliot


The Loss and Gain of Adoption

Selah Grace AnLi's last minutes in Jiangxi Province before boarding the airplane
Getting on a plane and flying from Nanchang to Guangzhou was a pretty emotional experience for me yesterday. As happy as we are to be with AnLi, we also are experiencing a range of conflicting emotions surrounding the loss she has gone through and will continue to go through. As we arrived at the airport, the weight of the truth that we were taking her farther and farther away from her homeland really hit home. I burst into tears when saying goodbye to our wonderful guide, William. He was with us when we met our daughter for the first time, and he will never know how his support and encouragement in our first five days with her really helped us through this transition. If it had been culturally acceptable, I probably would have thrown my arms around him and given him a huge bear hug with lots of tears to thank him for celebrating this beautiful addition to our family alongside us. But I didn't. ;) I just shook his hand and thanked him for all that he did for us during our stay in Nanchang. And then we walked away. It stuck me then how we just said goodbye to her last relationship in her homeland province. It is heavy. I don't think that truth should be an easy pill to swallow. This is not just about our gain in being with our daughter and her gain in having us as parents. But it is about the entirety of the package as a whole. There has also been incredible loss of having everything taken from her...her birth parents, her homeland, her relationships with her foster mom, orphanage nannies, and friends. This is one of the reasons we retained part of her birth name as her middle name, so that she has something that she has held onto from the beginning. Something that hasn't changed. The immensity of what is taking place is not lost on us. To be honest, when we got to Guangzhou last night, the dam of emotions broke, and I was finally able to grieve. She was playing so joyfully and freely in our new hotel room many hours past her bedtime, and I was just overcome with the reality of our gain and yet her birth parents' loss. Selah's gain of us, and yet her loss of everything else other than her name. I watched her play so happily, running around our room like she owned the place, and was amazed at how resilient and adaptable this little person is. All she needs is love to feel secure that this new hotel room is her home. She has learned to find her way through all of these changes with an open heart, and for that, I thank God for doing the miracle work. 
After bath cuddles!
As I laid her down to sleep and kissed her sweet head, I allowed my grief for her to flow. For the first time since coming to China, all the defenses came down within me, and God stepped into the spot in my heart that hurts deeply for her. For her birth mom and dad. For the broken family that for some reason could not stay intact. They took her to a doctor's office to be found when she was born premature. They wanted to give her life, a life they could not provide for her. And yet God had a plan to meet every one of her needs before her life even began. And hence the story unfolds of her adoption. I love her birth mom. I pray for her everyday. As I gaze upon this beautiful little girl I call my own, I am reminded of the truth of what her birth mom is missing. She will never hear these sweet squeals of laughter, see these bright eyes full of wonder. There was a short but real moment tonight when I felt guilty for being able to delight in her when her birth mom cannot. I know that this is all a part of grieving and letting go. Yet there is not one day that goes by that her birth mom does not think of her and miss her. And the same will be for us. We are so thankful for this woman who chose life, and who offered all she could to give Selah the hope she now has. I look forward to the years ahead when Selah and I will go out for a treat on Mother's Day to have a special carved out time to celebrate and pray for her birth mom. She will never be forgotten.

Evening family stroll in Guangzhou
As I embrace this grieving process with our precious daughter, I am also reminded of the hope of the Gospel and the incredible family and friends who await us in her new homeland. Her adopted homeland. There are so many who love her, who knew her before she even meets them, who call her by name, who pray for her. This is the hope she is entering into, and this is how I can rest in the truth of adoption being God's plan and purpose for so many children in this world. He has redemption planned for all of us in this. He is rescuing us. And we receive the greatest gain not in being with our daughter, but in being a part of His plan to redeem her life in extraordinary ways. We are so blessed to have a front row seat to witness His healing work in her little heart. Selah Grace AnLi means to "ponder grace in light of truth". We continue to ponder the grace that has brought us all to Guangzhou today. The grace that has truly been what allows us to stand and not crumble. The grace that calls us by name and says, "You are Mine." This song called "Come As You Are" by Crowder Has spoken hugely to us in light of all that God is doing in the midst of our adoption of Selah. Our favorite line in the song is "Earth knows no sorrow that heaven can't heal." There is hope. If you would like to listen to this song, it is worth the time. Much rest is found in these words. Here is the link: Crowder "Come As You Are" .

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