Wednesday – Day One
On Wednesday morning, I was incredibly sad and weary. I sent a fellow waiting mom a message asking for her to pray for me. Bryson had just left for a 3-day work trip to South Carolina. I realized once he left how sad I was that we did not receive a referral on Monday. At different points, we each have played the cheerleader in this process. When Monday fell silent, I was the cheerleader. Once B left, I realized how disappointed I was.
On Wednesday morning, I was running a minute late to a meeting. As I was slowly walking across campus, I started to tear up and pray out loud. I must have looked hilarious. Normally, I pray for my child’s birth mom, our child, her nannies, and then discernment for us. This time, my prayer was bolder and from a place that was really raw.
“Father, I know you called us to build our family through adoption. I know this is so close to your heart. I am willing to go down a hard path, BUT COULD YOU PLEASE SHOW ME THAT YOU ARE HERE? A couple of people are criticizing us for turning down a referral last month, and sometimes, it is hard for me to HEAR their criticism and not take it to heart. I want to pay attention to YOUR VOICE, not theirs. Thank you for that discernment. Thank you for saying, “This girl is not your daughter.” But, I am so weary and I need your strength. I need your strength to say no, and I need your strength when to say yes. But Lord, to read their stories, to know their names, to know that they are precious and loved by you, it makes me weary. So much suffering. And God, I am frustrated. Show me that you are here, show me that you care. MOVE the freaking MOUNTAINS. Lord, show us our daughter this week. PLEASE, I beg you.”
The boldness in my prayer shocked even me. I was like, “Sorry…um.”
As I sat down at the meeting, my colleague Mere said, “Hi Mandy.” I tried to hide my disappointment. And, then I focused on our work.
An hour into the meeting, I notice my agency’s number – I have missed a few calls from them. “Hey guys, sorry, I have to take this.” I walk out.
It’s a referral. As soon as my social worker says she has a referral, everything in my gut immediately says, “Mandy, this child is not your daughter. She has a momma waiting for her.” Bryson told me before he left to listen to the discernment I get – he told me he trusts me and knows to always listen to it. I said, “No.” Bryson is flying, should land any minute, and I have to run to teach class. I teach class somehow. I tell Bryson that I said no, didn’t even look at the child’s file. I just knew. Our no, is another family’s yes — our no gets this child to her beloved family.
I run and teach another class. I have more meetings. I don’t have time to eat. I get a horrible headache and go home.
My phone rings. My agency’s number flashes on my caller ID. Yes, eight hours later, I have a referral. First time my gut says, “This might be her.” Actually, I think we both really wanted it to be her. I call Bryson, and we read through her file together. But, now it is time to meet with my students to practice our lip-sync routine. I am a mess. All I have to do is start the music, and I am struggling because my thoughts are in China. A student comments that I am glazed over with a goofy smile.
I don’t sleep well. Two dogs keep waking me up. I am restless.
Thursday – Day Two
I wake up on Thursday morning at 7:30, and everything from the previous day comes flooding back to me. Oh yeah, the referrals.
Many of you know that we are pursuing an adoption for a child with medical or special needs. What we have not told a lot of people is that we are particularly passionate about helping orphans who have Congenital Heart Defects. We tithe money to help orphans in China get life-saving surgeries. With tithe money to help fund adoptions for precious kiddos with CHD. Because of our passion for loving precious kids with CHD, we just assumed we would adopt a child with CHD. I had talked to the experts at the best hospitals in the world (literally). We did our homework. We educated ourselves.
But on Thursday, I gave my desire to adopt a child with the need I imagined over to God.
“Father, if this little girl is not our daughter, please, I NEED YOU TO MAKE IT CLEAR TODAY. Bry and I are hopeful, and I need YOU to SHOW ME. Really SHOW ME. Lord, if we aren’t supposed to adopt a child with CHD, make it clear. If you want us to adopt a child with a more minor need, like missing a hand, SHOW ME TODAY PLEASE.”
Suddenly, I think, “Huh, adopting a child with a missing hand?…we have a friend who has a little girl with a missing hand and is about to adopt a son who is missing a hand. That would be such a good community.”
I hurry up and try to get out the door for an 8:15 meeting at my favorite coffee shop.
My phone rings. My agency’s number flashes on the Caller ID.
“Mandy, this is strange and this doesn’t usually happen, but we have another referral for you. It is for a little girl who is missing her hand. Would you like to see her file?” (Note: my agency matches families through orphanage partnerships and the shared list). This little one was from the shared list, so we would have to make a decision quickly.
As soon as she said, “a little girl who is missing hand…” I laughed out of pure joy. I KNEW she was our daughter. I knew it without looking at her file.
I went back in to the coffee shop for my meeting and sent Bryson a text message. I knew he was filming from 8am-11pm, and could not take a call. I texted, “You are not going to believe this. We got ANOTHER referral.”
Bryson responds, “WHA?!” (yes, missing the “t” in WHAT).
I responded, “I just sent you her file. She’s missing a hand. She’s from the shared list. I haven’t read her file because I’m in a meeting and I cannot talk right now.”
Somehow, I focused for the rest of my meeting. As soon as it is over, I rush over to my office.
It is her. No doubt about it.
Wishing Bryson was here and could talk, I rush upstairs to talk with Clayton, one of our closest friends. We are both so giddy. Better than any Christmas morning. I was worried that Bryson was feeling led to the opposite child.
Again, I text Bryson, “Have you read her file?”
Bryson responds, “Have you read her file?”
I respond, “YES! SHE IS AWESOME!!!!! SHE IS OUR DAUGHTER NO DOUBT!”
Bryson responds, “I KNOW! SHE IS THE LOVELIEST KID AT THE ORPHANAGE!”
And then he finally texts the text I have been praying for, “Can I call you?”
I responded, “YES!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I finally hear his voice, and it is so giddy. A level of giddy I’ve never heard before. “Mandy, they describe her as feisty, overbearing, lovely, sweet, spoiled, and curious. She is our daughter, no doubt. It was like I was reading about you. And Mandy, everything we specifically prayed for her on the day she was found, it is all described exactly as we prayed.”
I said, “OH MY GOODNESS! I know! I know. I cried because I could feel her birthmother’s love for her.” (There are private details that we will not share–but these are details that we prayed for. This is Lydia’s story to share someday, not ours).
Bryson cried and said, “I know.”
I responded, “Well do you trust me to proceed with talking to the international adoption physician and proceeding with the paperwork?” He blurts out, “YES!”
It doesn’t matter what the physician says, we know she is ours.
The physician tells me what I already have looked up. Her weight is in the 75th percentile. Her height is in the 75th percentile. Her head circumfrence is in the 75th percentile. She is resilient. She is social. She doesn’t let the fact that she is missing a hand stop her. She clearly has amniotic banding and was born without most of her left hand. The doctor says this might limit her someday in doing things like playing the piano. However, I know that the girl I see in this video is going to do more with one hand than most of us do with two.
And so, Lydia Grace is lovely. She is perfect. She is just missing a hand. She’s never had a left hand. She is just amazing. I could not open a piece of candy on my own at 19 months. She can. She does not let this slow her down.
I get off the phone with the physician, and I say out loud, “THANK YOU, FATHER, THANK YOU for this PRIVILEGE to love this little girl.”
I know from watching videos of her that she will run circles around us. We cannot wait. I know from how they describe her that she will also boss us around. I’m glad she is feisty–I’m sure it has served her well already.
I was not planning on sharing our child’s medical need on my blog, but since it is obvious, I decided to. I also would be so grateful for some of you who have small kiddos who interact with us to talk to your children (as appropriate) about how God makes all of us in different shapes, sizes, colors and builds our families in different ways. Some kids look like your kids, and some kids look different. But all are created in the image of our Father.
Please see Miss Lydia for who she is–a beloved and precious child. Please don’t see her for what she doesn’t have.
We are so grateful to God for this enormous blessing. Wow, does he ever create the best stories.
And, like I said earlier, we are just so grateful. Miss Lydia Grace will grow up knowing that there are other kiddos just like her. In our community, there will be four kiddos about her age who are also missing a hand that we are connected to through a group of families who have adopted from the same country. Months before we saw Miss Lydia’s file, God started to connect our families and build friendships. And, one of my dear friends is adopting from the exact same province. God is in the details. Orphans are close to his heart. We are so blessed to be a part of Lydia’s precious life.
Thanks for the prayers. This week, we will send Miss Lydia Grace a picture book introducing her to her mama, baba (dad in Mandarin), and Nemo and Dori. Wow, what an honor that is.
I love that when I told my dad about her missing hand, he said,”Cool, that won’t stop her. Just this morning I saw the news story about the college basketball player who is missing part of his arm.” I then told my dad about Miss Iowa who was also born without part of her arm.
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.” – I Samuel 1:27
To God be all of the praise and glory.