I very much want this blog to be the voice of all of us Henan Families. And here is one of my favorite bloggers, Tara. She has a gift with the word and uses it to bring glory to God and to deal with some pretty tough issues. When I read this post, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you, as I am sure what she writes about is something that has been in many of our hearts. So with her permission, here is Tara's reflections on her son's birthday:
Newer Every Day
Today is Caden's second birthday...and his first birthday at home. I feel like I should write a post commemorating the occasion, but I'm really torn on how to do that. Birthdays are a celebration. Hats, streamers, noise makers, cake and confetti. But today I have tears.
Becoming Caden's mother changed me in a way that I never expected. While he is such a joy and delight...truly a person to celebrate...I find myself grieving. I grieve the 21 months that I wasn't his Mommy. I grieve the fact that I don't know what happened two years ago today. There is an entire story surrounding his birth that I'm not privy to. I didn't hear his first cries, and I didn't feel the wonder a mother feels when she looks at her newborn child for the first time. I grieve that "loss". And I grieve for the woman who DID hear his first cries, but gave him up four days later in an act of desperation that I can't even begin to wrap my mind around. I grieve that Andrew wasn't there for "Gotcha" and won't meet his son until three months after homecoming. I grieve that Caden is losing his ties to the Chinese culture.
And yet...I rejoice in my son in a way I never expected. Already having three children, I expected #4 to be pretty much routine. It's anything but. Every day I stand in awe of the work God did when he brought Caden into our family.
I still can't grasp the wonder of it. Every time he hugs my neck or reaches his little arms out for me to hold him, I am filled with a million emotions and worry that my heart can't contain them all.
While the joy and sheer radiance of the moment fills me to the brim, I also feel very sorry for the "unknown Chinese mother" that's missing out on those sweet moments. I don't know the circumstances surrounding Caden's birth, and I know nothing of his birth family other than their basic geographic location. But I love the woman who brought my son into this world. I'm thankful for her sacrifice. I wish I could swing by and pick her up on our way to lunch today...celebrating in the miracle of our son with his favorite steamed dumplings.
I expected to board a plane bound for the US and leave China...only my heart never did. Part of it remains with a family in a rural part of China's most populated province. Part of it remains in an orphanage not too far from that rural location.
Part of it remains with the college student I met while attending church in Guangzhou. I have Chinese artwork in my home, a Chinese bracelet on my wrist, and a Chinese boy on my lap.
And I don't know what to do with it all. Pieces of China here, part of my heart there. Dreams of bringing more Chinese children into our home, dreams of being the hands and feet of Christ to the people of China.
When I left the US bound for China, I knew exactly who I was and exactly what I wanted. The only part of China my heart was longing and aching for was supposed to come home with me on an IH3 visa. But I can't love him without loving the land of his birth...the people of his birth country...and the children waiting just like he once was. And I'm learning that loving a once-orphan from a foreign land brings with it a heaviness that I don't know how to manage. So many of my priorities have changed, and yet so many haven't.
Two years ago, a little boy was born in China. Four days later he became an orphan. Just over two months ago, he became a beloved son. He is now a US Citizen with a great belly laugh that is developing a fluency in English. Becoming his Mommy shattered my heart and turned my world upside down in the most incredible way possible, and now I'm experiencing a rebirth of my own....
We turn not older with years, but newer every day.