For This Child I Have Prayed
I bought this picture of you. I didn't realize it was you at the time but I was drawn to it and knew it needed to come home with me.
I didn't know it would be the only picture I'd ever have of you.
I've dreamed about you. What your voice would sound like. What shade of perfect your skin would be. What it would be like to hug you for the first time. I practiced it in my head over and over. I wouldn't grab you or swoop you up. I'd get down on my knees and gently reach out my hands, hoping you'd want to hold them and whisper in a language that you'd understand;
Hello. I have been dreaming about you. I am going to be your mommy and I have loved you for so long.
It was supposed to begin with a phone call "There is a child we'd like to speak to you about". Then I would rush home from work to tell your daddy that he had just become a daddy. And we would cry and call our families and pray.
But instead it ended with an email.
"Based on the conditions and lack of opportunity to provide ethical adoption services in Ethiopia, we are sad to have to cease adoption services and close our adoption program in the country. This situation continues to be incredibly hard for us to accept knowing the great needs of orphaned children in Ethiopia that remains evident in every region of the country."
And I rushed home from work to tell you daddy that he was not going to be your daddy. And we cried and called our families and prayed.
I've tried to distract myself from thinking about it but the harder I try the more I'm drawn back to you.
I went to the airport. Each sleepy child was a reminder that you will never see an airplane. That the earplugs I was going to pass out to other passengers along with an apology wouldn't be necessary anymore.
I went to the beach. My favorite place in the world I think. I swam in the warm water and for a moment felt whole. But I am drawn back to you. You will never see the beach. I will never hear your voice squeal with delight at the feeling of sand in your toes. You will never collect seashells or throw a temper tantrum because it's time to leave and you're not quite done with your sand castle.
I return to work. I listen to clients share about their pain with the selfish hope that if I focus on their heartache I won't think about mine. I lean in and cling to every word. They tell me about war and rape. Abuse and death. I am drawn back to you. And I wonder if these things will be your life.
What happens to orphans who stay orphans forever? What happens when the only culture you know is the culture inside the walls of an institution? I've seen the latrines full of feces that spread disease that are too big for you to use. I've seen the lack of water to drink and wash with. I've seen the swollen bellies full of worms and auburn tinted hair that comes from starvation. I've only seen photos of the bondaged hands and feet of the children who wouldn't behave. The sterile white walls and lack of sunshine. The maggots that crawled into open wounds and made a home. I've heard stories about the trafficking. Organ harvesting. Child pornography. Slavery. How little boys and girls disappear and no one asks questions because no one was watching. Because they are orphans and we believe that orphans belong in orphanages in their own country rather than in a warm bed in a country that's not their own. But we don't talk about these things. We talk about all things working for good as if we have any idea what that might mean. What is goodness? We don't ask these questions. I come back to the room with guilt that I've not been paying attention for the last two minutes.
"And how does that make you feel?"
"What does this loss mean to you?"
I refuse to ask myself the same questions. They are impossible to answer.
At night I fall asleep with the teddy bear we bought for you. The beautiful man who would have been your dad says "there will eventually be a child in this home for us to give that too".
NO! And I cling to it tighter.
This was for you. It would be mean to give it to another child. There is no replacement. There will never be.
But the morning is the hardest. The silence is deafening. There is no pitter patter of feet. No begging you to go back to sleep until the sun wakes up. No early morning snuggles. No crawling into bed with us (even though we swore we wouldn't do that). No breakfast. No brushing your teeth and getting ready for school.
There is only silence and the painful truth that you are not dead but very much alive. You are alive and you are not here. As I drink coffee I realize it's dinner time where you are. Did anyone feed you? Are you full? Did a bigger kid steal your food? Did you have to beg or do unthinkable things with the hopes that an adult would give you just a little bit more to eat? Will anyone read you a bedtime story? Will you sleep in a bed? Will someone slip into the darkness of your room and comfort their pain with your body as you try to sleep? Will anyone care?
Do you have nightmares?
I know I do.
My coffee is cold. I cling to promises and wait for them to be true. I ask that God protect you and find you that one day in Glory we can meet face to face. And when I see you there I'll get down on my knees and gently reach out my hands.
And you will hold them.
And I will whisper in a language that you will understand.
Hello. I have been dreaming about you. I was supposed to be your mommy and I have loved you for so long.