Note: This is an edit/update of a post I wrote in April 2011, only two months after Sweet M joined our family.
Two words and yet practically everything we know about our daughter’s past. Not found abandoned with instructions attached. Not found abandoned with a letter describing life conditions too harsh to raise a child. Not found abandoned with a letter stating how much he or she really loved this child yet was unable to provide for her. Not found abandoned with a piece DNA material attached to help us locate any family members that may be living.
Just: found abandoned.
Along with a police statement, a few statements from witnesses, and the location of her abandonment, the only link to her life before us are these two empty, hollow, insufficient words. On a hopeful note, the location of Sweet M’s abandonment suggests that the person ‘dropping her off’ knew what they were doing and wanted her to be adopted. Is that hopeful? Regardless, I cling to it. It gives me comfort.
When I asked if children were ‘dropped off’ at this location frequently, as I had originally guessed, the police officer stated this was only the second time in the three years that he had been serving his post. This fact led to even more questions. Why? Why wouldn’t he or she have left a statement, as is more typical? “Was their a crime involved?” I silently wondered. Was she even born in the area surrounding her abandonment or did someone ‘drop her off’ during a pass through?
Left to my imagination, coupled with life conditions we witnessed when traveling and what I have come to learn about our daughter’s personality, I suspect that someone loved her very much. Our daughter’s ability to give and receive love demonstrate a strong attachment to a previous caregiver, a fierce resilience and determined spirit. On our first ‘forever day’ together in Addis, after she realized I wasn’t going away, she immediately clung to me. Death grip style. She hung on to me, physically and emotionally, in ways that both broke my heart and reassured me. She is terrified, but I am here. She is broken, but God redeems. We were going to be ok. She is transferring the bond. She knows I am mama. God…will not abandon us.
The reality is that our daughter has a huge gaping hole in her life. In her story. A God-sized hole. I see it. Others see, mostly through interesting behavior, probably not realizing the depth of the void. How can they? It is hard to see on the surface. Yet, no amount of me trying to make her feel OK about this missing piece will ever be enough. No amount of me anything will make this better. Ever. It will always be, “My mom did the best she could, but…”
Only God will be able to fill this void, and I pray that she chooses God to fill it and not a whole host of other gods that some choose to fill their voids. Other gods, idols, and feel good measures only wind up creating larger gaps. More hurt. More questions. Creator God, let her know she is loved. She is chosen. She is a daughter of the king. Help me to be the best mom I can be, so that she grows into her full potential in you.
Even still, there is someone out there who has the missing piece. Someone knows the person who dropped her off that day. Someone is the person who dropped her off that day. It is like a real-life, depressing game of Clue. Yet, I am not sure we will ever solve the mystery. I am not sure we are supposed to solve the mystery. It’s a depressing game of Clue that may never end. It feels, perhaps, the same way others may feel when playing Monopoly with their kids. At first, the adrenaline is high and there is a competitive spirit, but as the game drags on, everybody is secretly hoping that the game will soon be over. So they can change gears and begin a new game or task. Our game, however, just goes on. And on. And on. Yet, knowing that there could be someone out there, keeps me on my toes. It keeps me praying. Keeps me searching.
I pray desperately for answers and direction in this arena. She is only four years old now. But soon, she will have questions. I have done my best to include what I know of her story into our story. I speak of a first mommy. The mommy whose belly God knit her together in. I speak of someone who loved her very much. I speak lovingly of Ethiopia. Of the caregivers who loved her and took her in. I speak of the brokenness and injustice in the world. I speak of God’s redemption and love.
Years from now when Sweet M starts asking questions and the time comes to discuss her past, I trust that God will provide the right words. The wisdom. I trust that God will continue to direct our paths. God has been behind the scenes, involved with the details the entire time. Whether or not we ever get to meet any member of Sweet M’s family on earth, I am assured that we are united in God’s Spirit. I feel this unity. I sense it. I trust that whoever is on the other end is feeling it too. The Creator of all things seen and unseen assures us that God works everything together for the good of those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)
For many reasons, I have taken comfort and found peace in the book of Isaiah throughout our adoption journeys. The words found in Isaiah 40:28-31 provide for me a message of power, hope, confidence, and faith. The passage states, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Even when I am tired, God is not. Even when I do not have the answer, God does. Even and assuredly when I am are weak, God is strong and will renew my strength. Even when a child is abandoned due to horrible injustice in this world, God is good and is the Creator of everything seen and unseen.
Finally, let us never forget: God has found each and every one of us abandoned. While you or I may not have a police report documenting the conditions surrounding our abandonment, our hearts each have their own story. God finds us all at different places, physically and spiritually. God scoops us up and pulls us in with loving, welcoming arms. And as the words in Isaiah 40:28-31 assure me, and hopefully you too, “found abandoned” has nothing on our living God, a God who promises to never abandon or forsake us, and to walk with us through every trial and hardship.
It is God who took this hurt, scared, broken little girl and paired her up with a scared and broken family, to create for them both a picture of God’s beauty and compassion in the midst of a broken and hurting world. God redeems. God, does not abandon.