On January 12th, 2015, Ryan and I sat in a drafty room in Guangzhou, China alongside 5 other families who were all awaiting the arrival of their babies. Mind you, these babies ranged from age 2 to 13 and had been more loved, prayed for, worked for, and cried over then they will ever, ever know. The first family was called to the center of the room and a beautiful 13 year old girl in a wheelchair was brought out to them. My heart broke! Until that moment, I had remained uncharacteristically calm, but seeing that little girl united with her family just did something to me that I could never put into words on a blog post.
My heart began racing a mile a minute when I heard them call out “Chen family”. We were up next! Out waddled the sweetest little man you could ever pray to lay eyes on. There he was, in the flesh, our Kai! This was the moment I romanticized and dreamt of for nearly 17 months. We had our son! As we walked, with Kai, back to our little corner of the room, I was struck with the reality that we were FINALLY a family! That little Mandarin/Cantonese-speaking boy was OURS. No one was going to take him from us, no one was going to parent him for us. For better or worse, this was 100% on our shoulders now. It was a very beautiful and scary thought.
If you follow me on Instagram (@leftylex), then you know that life has not been an endless unicorn ride since bringing Kai home. Nor did we expect it to be. Kai spent the first 22 months of his life in an orphanage and over 2 years with the same foster family. We would be naive to think that his life experiences before us would not affect him. Of course they had! Some times its easier to pretend that Kai has always been ours and that he has always known the love and warmth of a family. But that’s not true and it’s not fair to Kai to create such a story. There are emotional and physical scars from Kai’s life before us. Every time I lay Kai down, put a hat on him, or wash his hair, I am reminded that he was not held as an infant. The back of his head is flat from laying in a crib all day. Stop and think of your son, daughter, niece, nephew or any other little one who is near to your heart. Can you imagine them crying as an infant and not immediately running to them to tend to their needs? Kai had no one to tend to him immediately; he shared a nanny with dozens of other kids in the same room. There simply was not enough (wo)manpower to hold all of those infants as much as they should have been held. But, the Lord protected our baby and made him a survivor.
It has taken an insane amount of coddling, kisses, tickling, and wrestling to slowly break down Kai’s walls so that he can truly trust and love us as his parents. Over the past three months, we have learned to love and trust together, as a family. There have been moments of complete emotional exhaustion and moments of ridiculous bliss. I have been hit, punched, bitten, hugged, kissed, and cried on more than I ever dreamed. It is not all sunshine here, nor do I want it to be. I want Kai to know that he is allowed to be angry and grieve for the people and things that he has lost in his short life. Most of us will never know that amount of loss. But there is such beauty in seeing him laugh, and smile, and learn to truly love. Ryan and I are in constant amazement at how much Kai has changed since that cold “Gotcha Day” in Guangzhou. It’s beautiful to witness the healing that has taken place in our son’s life.
Three months with Kai, three months a mom. They’ve been the most challenging and beautiful months that I’ve ever known.