I've been thinking a lot about them lately, especially today. The two people, who in a perfect world, would have been here today, not me. Her birth parents.
She doesn't speak of them and I've struggled to know what and when to ask more about them. At what point in our relationship do we have enough emotionally invested to pursue questions that cross into painful territory and re-open gaping wounds? I don't know.
We still know so little about her and she knows so little about us. This girl who has lived under our roof for four and a half months and whose medical and emotional care has almost completely consumed our time and energy is still very much a stranger to us- her story held hostage from us by the merciless greed of such a difficult language barrier.
And yet it was my hand that held hers as they put the gas mask over her nose to drift her off to sleep before surgery. It was my eyes that held hers as they fluttered off to sleep. It should have been their hands, their eyes- not mine.
As I sat in the waiting room, the hours ticking by, I thought of them, especially her father. For the first time I pitied them, deeply so. For the first time I allowed myself to go there- to think of the agony he must have felt that day seven years ago when he walked away and never came back. It must have been excruciating for him. Forever scarring to any father. And her mother... what did she go through? Unfathomable.
I had resented them before... angry. Now my heart hurt for them. It must have been hell. Literally. There can't be any other word to describe it. An Abrahamic test only a few will ever be so unfortunate to have to make: to choose between life and love.
But their choice gave her a chance at life, one that otherwise she certainly would have been denied of. She wouldn't have lived much longer, of that I know for sure.
Giving myself permission to forgive them was liberating- the self-imposed burden of blind and selfish judgment lifted from my shoulders. Now to move onto the work of forgiving the orphanage for the lack of care that she received, resulting in permanent aftermath that will affect her for the rest of her life. That's grace that I need to offer not for their sake, but for mine.
We seemed to have turned a corner in our relationship over the past month. After hitting an all-time low just prior to it, I can honestly say that I love this girl as though I had given birth to her myself.
Today as I watched her drift off to sleep from the anesthesia, I couldn't stop staring at her, realizing that she truly has my heart- entirely. It hasn't been an easy road to get here for either of us... far from it. There have been times when she probably would have taken a one-way ticket back to China, and days when I would probably wouldn't have objected.
But we're here now. As I sit here typing, she's listening to her favorite song, "Imperfect Child"- the song that seems to have become a sort of anthem to her. The road to get here has been one of broken hearts. But I've learned that that's what adoption is... a road of broken hearts that leads to redemption- not only the child's redemption, but that of the adoptive parents as well. Because in her, I have truly found a sense of redemption. And I pray that her birth parents will find a sense of redemption someday in knowing that their choice not only gave their daughter a chance at life, but in doing so, offered us a chance for redemption as well.