As much as I tried to soak up every minute with Juan David and his sister together, I will very readily admit that many moments tugged heavily on my heart strings.
All the hugs. Kisses. Holding hands. That sweet girl is as affectionate as can be. Yet my son, the one I did adopt, is as far on the other extreme as possible. Why did I have to miss out on the affectionate one? Why did I get the stiff one who desperately needs affection but pushes it away? (Though he does hang all over me when he's in an unfamiliar situation, not realizing that he's doing it.)
Then there were other moments, like when we met her extended family and her grandpa asked me about the rest of my family back at home. I showed them pictures of David and Mike, and then he said, "But you never had a girl?"
Ouch. Like a punch in the gut. How do you explain that you carried one in your heart for a long time, that she already had her own place set up in your home, but that somehow she ended up as his granddaughter, a contintent away. She actually stood right there in front of him. Yes, I had a girl, but I lost her.
No, I didn't actually say any of that. I just told him no. I had a husband and two boys.
Seeing Juan David and his sister together and hanging out with them together prompted thoughts about what it might have been like to raise them together. What could've been. The life I once thought I was jumping into when we pursued their adoption.
Yet the burning question that haunted me the entire first week almost left me hanging. What did they know about me? I knew the papers explained that the family found in the United States for them didn't end up working out, due to our "unsuitability". Those papers never said our name, though. I knew I never told Laura that I planned to adopt her, so all she ever knew was that I called her often and planned to visit her and bring her presents. After the adoption failed, I always wondered if they told her the whole story.
After spending a week with her, I was pretty sure they didn't know. As I talked more about Julian over the course of the week, I could tell her grandpa started doing the math and realized there was more to the story that didn't quite compute with the amount of time since we adopted Juan David.
I wanted to spill it out, but I prayed that God would make that moment obvious. As our time started drawing to a close without that opportunity, I started to think that maybe things were better left unsaid.
Then two or three days before our departure, I went on a tour bus ride with Laura's mom and aunt while Juan David went with his sister to visit a friend. When we finished the tour bus ride, we sat down in the plaza and ordered something to drink. We sat talking about all three kids again, and suddenly her mom did the math, too, and realized that I was in Colombia with Julian before starting our process to adopt Juan David. I told her it was a long story, and she said, "Please do tell. I want to hear it."
Then the whole story poured out, and her mom hung on to every word. Even after getting interrupted by the kids showing up midway through, she turned back to me, saying, "Continue. I'm listening."
By the time I finished the story, her sister couldn't stop smiling, realizing how destiny truly brought Laura to them and Juan David to me. An absolute peace just washed over me. Holes filled in for them, gaps filled in for me. Just as I suspected, Laura never thought more of my phonecalls than just a friend of her host family that loved her and wanted to visit her. She remembered me and my phonecalls very clearly, but she never knew the real purpose behind why I called her so often for so long.
We got back to the house shortly after, and I went straight to my suitcase to get out a copy of my books. I went to the kitchen and handed them to her mom, saying, "Here's the whole story that I just told you."
She has studied quite a bit of English, though has been out of practice for many years. But she immediately starting reading. To see my book in her home, in her hands, dedicated to her daughter, filled me with a peace I didn't know I was still searching for.
- 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.