This evening, in order to reflect on Orphan Sunday, I went through our referral paperwork and pictures on both TJ and Jesse. I have to say, this was very moving for me. TJ was abandoned in a hospital shortly after his birth with his twin sister, who died minutes after her birth. We never had information on his birth mother. We received pictures of this tiny boy with a worried look on his face. I remember thinking that I couldn't wait to hold him and bring our love into his heart, so he wouldn't look so afraid. I remember praying that God would bring a comfort to his heart that his mamma was coming soon and everything would be ok.
Although, technically, TJ died an orphan, he was never that in my heart. He was mine the second I heard his story on the phone with Brandi, our case manager at AGCI, and laid eyes on his picture. I was days, just days from getting on a plane to hold him and go to court to make him officially ours.
The other day I was watching Little Women with Alex. I uncontrollably found tears streaming down my face when Beth was speaking her last words to Joe. She was saying that when she died she would feel homesick for her sisters because even though she would be in heaven, she would miss her sisters who had such a big place in her heart. It was cold and blustery outside, much like the day before Thanksgiving last year when we received the news that our boy didn't make it through the night at Hannah's Hope. We had just gotten the news only 16 hours earlier that TJ was released from the hospital with pneumonia; we didn't even know he was sick before that call; it happened so fast. I know we'll see TJ in heaven, but sometimes I feel homesick for him. He has a special place in my heart and always will.
Our goal last year was to just get through the holidays. We did more than that. We held one another a bit tighter, we counted our blessings, we thanked God that our boy was with Him, we cried, we prayed, we talked, we regrouped, we changed. We knew that God gave us this boy to love, and we knew we always would. We walked through the pain with the help of our friends, the love of our family, and the grace and the comfort that only our God gives.
In late January, we decided that we couldn't turn our backs on what God called us to do. We gave the thumbs up to AGCI that we would like to move forward with our process, and they gave us their blessing. They grieved with us too during that season. Looking back, I'm so thankful for them in ways that I never gave them credit for.
On February 15th, we received this picture:
and this one:
and this one too:
Pictures of a sweet boy named Getiso at 2 months old. We saw those sweet eyes and smile and moved forward with cautious optimism. We didn't know right away that we would name him Jesse. That came later when we felt it was a great name for a little brother. He was described as happy and strong-willed, and I can atest to that :) Today, reading his referral, it is bitter sweet. I mourn for his birth mother. I pray for her by name everyday. I can't imagine what my life would be like without this boy, and yet I know that she does live without him. It's hard. Because not only do I love this boy with all my heart, I love his birth mamma too. How could I not?
For those of you who know my Jesse, you know a boy who smiles ALL THE TIME. He's a boy who loves to high five, pat his head, clap hands, and flirts with everyone in church. He's joy defined. He's my boy, and he is loved beyond measure.
I never saw my boys as "orphans." They were mine the second I knew them.
Sometimes I hear people say, "I don't think I could do that," meaning the international adoption thing. I don't judge them in any way. I understand the questions or fears behind a statement like that, and I appreciate someone's honesty. This is just what Steve and I were called to do, whatever route we've travelled to get there. He's our son, that simple. It wasn't meant to be any other way. And I gotta tell you, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, I would fill out every last bit of paperwork and take the same risks all over again. We are blessed and that's all there is to it.
So, today I celebrate Jesus in my individual walk and in my daughter's life and my family's life. I thank Him for all of it. I ask Him to bring families to the children who are waiting all over the world, just waiting and praying like you and me. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for my family. Thank You for this love.