Nathan and I walked down a steep incline toward the green metal gates that enclosed the school she had been attending for just a few days prior to our arrival. Children ran toward us but my eyes darted from face to face amongst the crowd looking for HER. She was who I came to see. None of these deep brown eyes I looked into were hers so I kept searching the group. Then the school master told us the girl we were looking for was still inside. Why hadn't she rushed out like all the others? She did not realize that today would be different than any other day she had known before. I knew. My stomach was in flight at the realization that this was the moment I had been waiting for for so many years. The woman emerged from the concrete building with a child in hand that looked nothing like what I had expected. They had shaved her head recently and the scowl on her face mixed with the drab school clothes they had placed her in did nothing to highlight her specialness. But I knew deep down whom she belonged to and my heart burst just as my knees hit the ground to be at her eye level. They led this little being toward us and I cannot imagine what she was thinking or feeling: fear and confusion Im sure were among the list. Why was everyone paying attention to her all of a sudden? Why are these Mzugu's (white people) wanting to see me? She avoided eye contact at all costs as we desperately sought her gaze to affirm how loved she was. The school master introduced us to her as "mommy and daddy" and placed her hand in mine. A year ago today, we met our youngest daughter.
I was never a naive adoptive mom. I have always known that adoption wasn't an easy or always romantic road to travel on. But I also think I had a secret hope that our journey would be. I wished it would be instant and it wasn't. I hoped it would be easy and it's been hard. I prayed that all my kids would adjust well and they didn't. I dreamed it would be seamless and it hasn't been. I knew it could go either direction and while I would have preferred it going one way, it went the other. If I could rewrite the story and make it different, I would have. But I am not the author of this story. The Author knows more than I know. The Author has a bigger picture than I have. The Author has ways that are higher than my ways and thoughts that are higher than my thoughts. That's why I can trust Him.
This road we have been on for the past year has not been comfortable, safe or simple. But it has been redeeming, life-changing and full of so many teachable and learnable moments that make us better disciples of Jesus every single day. Those are the things we seek and find only along the narrow road.
A lot has happened in a year. Jaydn Priscilla still "loves to be loved" and still diverts her eyes from connections too deep for her comprehension or capability. But some things have changed. She has found her smile. I have found my anchor in Christ. She has a light in her eyes that she didn't have a year ago. I have a depth in my heart that I didn't have a year ago. She is home with her family. I am home with my family. Time is on our side as we grow...both of us.
Thank you God for my promised child. She is more amazing and beautiful than I could have ever imagined. She is more a gift to me than I am to her most days and she reminds me of your faithfulness and my need for You everyday. She teaches me the depth of what it means to have been an orphan myself until you adopted me into your family through Jesus. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving her and never leaving her. Help me to be a vessel for Your healing in her life. Thank you for appointing her to be a vessel for Your healing in my own. We are alive because of Your love. May we honor You with our every breath as we walk this road together year after year after year. Amen.