|Faith's birth father was signing a statement for the adoption. The guy on the right was our hero interpreter whom our awesome attorney unearthed in Middle-of-Nowhere, KS! He holds a special place in my heart.|
We laughed, we cried, we tried to navigate our own feelings while being sensitive to her birth parents' feelings. Through our interpreter we asked them all the questions we could think of and our social worker asked a few more. My heart leapt when Faith's birth father corrected his own answer when asked what religion he practices: "None," a pause and then as an afterthought, "I might be a Christian." My thoughts and prayers have lingered obsessively over that might be as I have wondered and dreamed about how and when the uncertainty might give way to a life given fully over to our Good Lord!
Have I mentioned before that Faith has two sisters? (Well, she has THREE sisters! Two biological sisters.) Her birth parents are working hard, saving all of their money to one day send for them. It took 8 years for Faith's birth father to save enough money to send for his wife. Now that there are two of them working, I pray that they are united sooner than that. When we asked about Faith's sisters, I was not prepared for her birth father's answer. My heart sank and I wept as Faith's birth father shared his discouragement and despair from a life of hardship. "I have been unlucky my whole life," he said quietly. "Maybe, if I was a rich man, I would still have all of my daughters." I had to look down as I saw his eyes pool with tears. The brokenness and despair in her birthfather's voice and face will haunt me for as long as I live. Because it's true. If he was a rich man, he would have all of his girls. And that is not okay with me. His posture, his grief is an image I won't forget. I choose to keep it in the forefront of my memory.
It is that image that awakens in me a roar of defensiveness when people assume Faith was unwanted by her birth parents. Sure, I feel defensive that anyone would consider my child unwanted, but more so, I feel the need to defend these beautiful people - my daughter's birth family. It is an unfair and ignorant thing to assume that just because a parent isn't caring for their child means he doesn't wish he could be. In the many adoption stories I have heard, I have never once heard a birth parent say, "I just didn't want her." (I'm not saying there aren't those stories, I'm just saying I believe they are rare in comparison to stories of sacrifice and choices made out of love.)
It is a broken part of our world that there are millions of families who are forced to make the choice between remaining their child's parent and, in many situations, keeping their child alive. I don't want to get into this fully right now, but I have a post I keep tinkering with that I haven't gotten quite right yet. For now, if I want you to know anything about my child's birth family, it is that they are selfless people who have chosen to forsake their own desires and happiness for the sake of their daughter.
As our conversation progressed and I began to tick off the questions on my list of things to ask, my mind began to whir with a feeling of desperation. I needed to take advantage of this time. We might not get this time again. But even as I sensed panic creeping in - the panic to get ALL of my questions answered in the time we had - I started to realize that I had all my top priority questions answered and that anything under that category was frivolous curiosity. I started to realize that I had an opportunity to give them the gift of preference in things they probably assumed they would have no say. A few questions formed in my mind - questions designed to extend an olive branch and begin to build a relationship. I wanted this adoption to be more than a civil transaction. I wanted it to be the beginning of a familial relationship. When we promised to be Faith's family, we were also promising to be family to these precious people. I began to frame questions in my mind that would communicate to them that I valued their insight, their opinion, their feelings and their culture.
The question I am the most glad I asked is what they would like to be called when we talk to Faith about them. They were very diplomatic and said we could use their names or call them Auntie and Uncle. But I asked them what the Mandarin words for mom and dad are: mama and baba. "Then that's what we'll call you. We will be Mommy and Daddy and you will be Mama and Baba." At this, Faith's birth mom bowed repeatedly to me, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" she repeated. I echoed those words in prayer because I truly believe that the Holy Spirit urged me to offer this title to them. A title they deserve and I give them without reservation.*
|Me holding Faith with First Mama and First Baba (the Husband was there, too but I cropped him out. Sorry Husband!)|
*To Lila, we often call them Faith's Tummy Mommy and Tummy Daddy as well, but as Faith gets older we will call them Mama and Baba or First Mama and First Baba.