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I am a wife, daughter, mother, bilingual teacher, poet, author, women's Bible study teacher, world traveler, orphan advocate, and an adoptive mother.  Our adoption journey has been filled with a lot of hurt and loss, along with even more hope, grace, and healing.  Through it we have experienced more of God than we ever bargained for and have watched Him miraculously redeem our story when we surrendered all the broken pieces to Him.

Surviving the Valley Series

Surviving the Valley Series
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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Blessed beyond measure this Christmas

To the little girl I loved and lost right before Christmas, now seven years ago:

When the thought of adoption began to stir in our hearts, we both knew that we wanted to adopt a little girl. Not a baby or even a toddler. We felt convinced God had already chosen a little girl for us very close in age to our only son. 

When I saw your picture for the first time, I couldn't take my eyes off of you. There amongst 13 other little pictures, yours stood out to me. A little girl so close in age to my son. When we saw you wanted to be adopted with your older brother, it didn't take us long to know we wanted both of you. 

When I walked up to the lake and saw you standing there in the water with all the other kids, I knew immediately which one you were. I'd already prayed for you for several weeks. By the time I got to meet you, you already had my heart.

Pursuing your adoption filled me with incredible joy. I showed your picture to so many friends and family, proudly showing off my future son and daughter (though you already claimed that space and title in our hearts). I'll never forget that first phonecall I made to you or your sweet voice on the other end. I loved hearing your delight every time you heard my voice over the next year of phonecalls. I loved shopping for you, buying you cute little dresses, nightgowns, sweaters, and jeans. I had so much fun buying you dolls and toys, blankets, curtains, sunglasses, stuffed animals, and decorations for your room. I couldn't wait for you to come home.

I bought you both two beautiful blue stockings that summer, convinced you'd both be home for Christmas that year. I never imagined the emptiness those stockings would soon bring to our lives.

When I heard them say the adoption would not go through, it crushed me. I hurt more deeply than I've ever hurt in my entire life, and I grieved losing you for an entire year. I'll never forget that last phone call with you, and I'll never be able to express how much I missed hearing your voice. I thought about you all the time. 

I wondered if God would ever cross our paths again, though I knew it was foolish to even think that when we lived on two different continents and had no reason to ever communicate again. They cut off all my contact with you, thinking it was the best for you to be able to bond to another family later. 

My heart ached for you when I heard you and your brother would be split because another family took interest in him but didn't have enough time to devote to both of you. I couldn't even imagine your heartache. But I felt blessed when your oldest brother initiated contact with me and allowed you and I to still send sweet messages to one another through him. He knew I still loved you, and he knew you still loved me. 

I felt so hopeful as my relationship with your oldest brother continued to grow and we made plans to meet him. I hoped our committed relationship with him might give us another chance to still adopt you. We prayed faithfully for you to have a mother of your own, but I sure did beg God to let that mother still be me.

My heart broke all over again when your new mommy did come to adopt you just four months before I made it to Colombia. I was elated for you, but I won't deny that I always wondered why God chose her to raise you instead of choosing me. I fought hard against the idea that I just wasn't good enough. I'll never forget that day when you skipped out of all of our lives, nor can I ever forget the deep sadness that your oldest brother shared with me that evening once you were gone. His heart shattered because he didn't even get to say goodbye. 

For the last five and a half years, I've never stopped wondering about you, thinking about you, praying for you, and loving you. Right alongside both of your brothers, one of whom finally came home to me--without you. 

Your pictures still sit on the shelf of his room, the room we'd originally prepared for you. Not a single year have we forgotten your birthday. We even celebrate your special day with a special cake in your honor. Especially now that your brother is here, we've done our best to keep your memory and spirit alive in his life. We never stopped hoping that someday we'd find you and know more about your new life. We couldn't adopt your oldest brother, but we still treat him as if he's part of the family. We still love him as if he were our son.

We all searched for you periodically on different social media venues with the only last name we'd been given, wondering if maybe your mom had changed your name and that's why we couldn't find you. Or perhaps she just kept you off of such things for your protection due to your young age. We even formally asked both Colombia and Kidsave to help us search for you, but after a year went by, we assumed the search proved fruitless. Your brothers never stopped hoping, though. You are a part of them that they will always hold very dear to their hearts. 

Yet one day when we least expected it, your name (that last name we'd searched for so many times) popped up in my e-mail, attempting to reconnect with your brother. Soon after another e-mail arrived with your beautiful little picture, now current, staring back at me. Not much longer, a whole new world of communication opened up between you and both of your brothers (now on three different continents), a gift more wonderful than I could have asked for this Christmas.

I don't know if you realize it's me that your brother lives with. I don't know if you even remember me or the role I played in your life for nearly two years.  I can't tell you what it's meant to me to see pictures of you in your new life, smiling with your new friends, visiting new places, or standing in front of the beach with your mom. The mom God chose for you instead of choosing me. The life He prepared for you instead of the life I'd prepared for you here. People used to tell me they should have let us adopt you, they never should have separated you from your brother. It was all a mistake, an injustice to all involved. I disagreed then, believing that you ended up exactly where God wanted you, as much as it hurt me. Now when I see you living your life with your new friends and family, I am reminded that those new relationships were always meant to be. Your friends needed you. Your mom needed you. You completed that family in a way that only you could do.

Your brother asked me the other day what I wanted for Christmas because I'm hard to shop for. I learned long ago that stuff doesn't make me happy, so I told him all I wanted was a clean house. :) But the truth is, finding you has brought me a closure that I have longed for over the last seven Christmases.

(I wrote this poem to your oldest brother in 2011, his first Christmas wthout you, ten months after you moved away, two years after I lost you myself. )

Knowing your brothers don't have to spend another Christmas without you in their lives is one of the best gifts I could have ever received. I am grateful beyond words.

This wasn't at all the way I pictured my life when we set out to adopt a little girl to complete our family, but now I can't help but feel so lucky, so privileged to have met you and to be part of this grand story that God is still writing with your lives.

Like I said in my first book dedication, you will always have my heart.

Te quiero mucho,

Tia Raquel (what you always used to call me over the phone)

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