November 26, 2004 - Tears for her mother...

     The orphanage director drove his car and led the bus to the place Kate had been found that September morning, bundled in a piece of red carpet.  In those few moments I had one thought-  Kate's mother was somewhere nearby!  My heart broke for her.  Her incredible loss had become my unspeakable gain.  She is part of one of the world's saddest statistics.  But she was no longer a statistic to me!  She was a human being... the woman who had carried the precious baby that I now held in my arms, and then somewhere nearby had secretly given birth to her.
     It would be easier somehow to just push such thoughts from my mind.  But I refuse to dishonor her gift to me that easily.  Instead, I chose to let myself go there fully.  As the bus made it's way away from Kate's finding site and past the apartments and small cinderblock homes back to the capital city, I allowed my mind to drift back to what might have been 14 months earlier...


     Her pregnancy for Kate was probably her first.  Chances are that she was at least 10 years younger than I, with hopes and dreams much like my own.  Her culture demands that she produce a boy!  Her husband and her in-laws probably demand it too.  Her pregnancy would have to be hidden from the authorities until it produced the boy they all hoped for.  
     I wonder what it would be like to carry a baby for nine months with such expectations, mixed with fear.  She must have emotionally rehearsed the birth a million times in those months of waiting.  The birth of a son would be welcomed and celebrated and life could go on as planned.  But should she birth a daughter instead... the grave consequences must have haunted her thoughts...
     And then the moment finally arrived -  sometime around the first of September 2003, Kate's mom went into labor and realized what was possibly her greatest fear- the birth of a baby girl.  The three most beautiful words to my ears were probably the three most terrifying ones to hers...  
     Her baby girl was absolutely perfect and healthy!  Certainly she marveled at her ten fingers and ten toes and rose bud lips the same way I would have, had I been there!  And while those around her bristled with disappointment and even dared to suggest that they could "rid" her of this most unwanted baby girl, she chose instead, to draw her near... nurse her and give her life.  I cried tears of joy at the birth of my precious Sarah-  I wonder if Kate's mother cried-  were they tears of joy or tears that revealed her broken heart for all the uncertainty that lay ahead for an unwanted daughter in a country that prizes sons?  
     I see a tender heart in Kate, and I wonder if she inherited that from her mother.  Did she lay awake all night trying to memorize her beautiful almond eyes, her chubby cheeks, and those rosebud lips.  Memorizing every detail so that she could remember them in the days and years ahead, after she was long gone.  For 11 days she nurtured her, she cared for her, she kept her quiet so that no one would know a baby had been born to their home, and she must have wondered just how long she could keep such news concealed.  Surely she begged her husband to find another way... to be satisfied with a girl... to somehow come up with the exhorbitant amount of money they needed to try again and pay, should the 'gods' award them with a son next time.   And when she knew that he could not be persuaded, how did she begin the process of letting her go?...
     She'd been pushing her luck for 11 days and probably allowed herself to get more attached to her beautiful baby girl than she should have.  Now she must force herself to do the unthinkable.  Abandoning baby girls may well be an accepted, cultural thing in China... but a mother's heart can't be taught such things... and I am certain that hers ached in a way I'll never have to know.  My own heart aches for her as I think of her unimaginable grief in saying "good-bye" to her infant girl.  How did she feel when she dressed her daughter in a light blue button shirt, wrapped her snuggly in a red blanket, and tucked in a feeding bottle and some powdered milk for after she was gone?...  I can only imagine the last kiss, the last caress... before she laid her against the brick building and scurried away so that she would not be seen...  As a mom, I am convinced that she stayed nearby to make certain that nothing terrible happened to her baby, as if this weren't terrible enough.  And when her baby was found, surely she followed at a distance to be certain she was delivered safely to the local orphanage.  
     What a long walk home it must have been for Kate's mommy.... Her arms were empty now.  She carried her for nine months, she hid her and cared for her for 11 days, and now she returned home with nothing...  Nothing that is, except an empty, broken heart that yearns for the little girl she will never know.  
     If only she knew!  If only she knew about the way I instantly fell in love with her little girl and took her in as if she were my own.  If only she could see the beautiful smile on her face last night as she played with her new Daddy.  If only she could know what hope lies ahead for her future in a family full of love and dreams.  If only she knew that the life she chose to bless her daughter with, now blesses mine!  If she knows only one thing... I pray that she knows the sweet tender grace of the God who loves that little girl more than either of us could and can give healing to her heartache.  If only...  




June 2, 2006 - I had no idea the day I wrote these words for Kate's mom that I would return to adopt another daughter from Hunan a year and 1/2 later.  Since we could not visit Ellie's orphanage in another part of Hunan, we requested to return to Yiyang to revisit her finding spot and try to leave a message of hope for her mother to see.  We hung a poster there on the wall above where Kate had been found that showed her precious, happy smiles with her forever family in America.  I prayed and begged God to somehow carry this special message to Kate's mommy.  My life has been forever changed because of the incredible gift of life she gave.  I pray that we have an eternity to enjoy the overflowing blessing of our precious daughter together...

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