red stripes and blue stars

I was at Old Navy today. We had gone to return a few things and look for a special outfit for Lydia’s homecoming. I was thinking something “American” – she will fly on a Chinese passport but will become a U.S. citizen the moment our plane touches down on American soil. Certainly something to celebrate, and I figured since 4th of July was coming up it wouldn’t be hard to find something cute.

What was supposed to be a quick trip in and out of the store turned into a battle of anxiety and suddenly I found myself overwhelmed at the reality of what we are about to face. Yes, we have prayed and hoped for it for so long, but now it is here and the challenges and questions are looming over me. Lydia is Chinese, will look Chinese, will speak Chinese – how can I put an American outfit on her? How do I honor her heritage? Her birthparents remain in China; do I ignore that and turn her into an all-American girl? Her history is on the other side of the world – those who gave her life are still living in a country vastly different than our own. Am I allowed to take her away? Is it okay that I will be responsible for creating an enormous chasm between who she is now and who she will be in 5 years? Okay that she will lose, in a very short amount of time, much of who she is at this moment? And she will never get it back? As much as I am excited for us, I think I am grieving the loss that she is about to have - wondering how I reconcile my part in her grief. She will never meet her birthparents, never know where she was born and when exactly, never know if she has big brother. She will never know why. I realize that all this would be true if she was not to be our daughter, but the idea that I am intimately involved in her loss and grief is a bit haunting.

There is a pit in my stomach pretty much at all times these days. The scope of the next few weeks is overwhelming. In just over 2 weeks we will be handed a child and she will be ours to love and care for as long as we live. We have never met her, touched her, or said anything to her. She may or may not have ever seen our picture. We will not speak the same language, eat the same food, or live life the same way. In a matter of minutes, her caretakers will leave us and there we will be looking at her face, her looking at us, and all three of us wondering what in the world is going on. We will no longer be the family we once were nor will she be the little girl she has been for the past 2 ½ years. We will change drastically in the next few months and all of us will look at life far different than we did before.

Our tickets are bought – we depart Norfolk at 9:08 a.m. on June 26 as a family of five. And we will arrive home at 7:02 p.m. on July 11 as a family of six. Thirteen days from now our journey of 3 years will be over. Or will it just be beginning. The excitement is too much to describe, the anxiety almost too much to bear. But in this mixed bag of emotions that is my reality right now, I cling to the truth that God has undeniably led us on this journey and this little girl, Li Ji Shan, was created to be ours. She was ordained from the beginning of time to be our daughter and our sister. And we can’t wait to tell her. We can’t wait to be able to love her, embrace her, hold her close and whisper in her ear “You are mine.” Okay, she will have no idea what we are saying… but I think she will get it. And I guess we will have to see about that little blue dress with stars on it.