We will be traveling soon. We don't have exact dates quite yet but we know we're close. It's important to reflect on what we expect out of our "gotcha day" and beyond. We have been trained throughout this process, to expect the worst and hope for the best. If I'm being honest with myself (and now with you), I often gloss over what probably will be.
We see adorable pictures of Emily. We talk about her like she's always been a part of our family. But Emily's reality is very different from the way we sometimes view it. The truth is harsh and ugly. Emily has experienced more trauma in the 2 years she has been alive than most of us will experience in a lifetime. Emily was born premature, with a heart defect and cerebral palsy. She was abandoned days after her birth and was immediately institionalized. She spent 6 months in an institution where she likely had little attention. She was uprooted about 6 months later and entered the care of Harmony House, hundreds of miles away from her originating orphanage. We are grateful that she has been at Harmony House since this time but the reality remains. She is still an orphan and hasn't experienced the love of a mother and father.
The reality of all this trauma leads me to expect a broken reunion with her, and a broken homecoming. She can't appreciate that she's being adopted. She has no idea what her future holds. She doesn't have the perspective that we have. She is fragile and I expect her behavior to reflect that. She will once again be uprooted and thrown in to the arms of a mother she does not know. We look different, we smell different, we sound different. We will drag her all over China before we fly home, to yet another place she is not familiar with. So, when I ponder my expectations, they are certainly low. I expect she will reject me. I expect she will be angry and scream constantly. Or perhaps she will shut down and avoid any emotion at all.
The not knowing. Isn't that always where our anxiety stems from? My prayer today is that I will continue to rely on the God who is never surprised, the God whose expectations are always fulfilled, the God who loves me infinitely more than I can even imagine, and the God who offers us a hope that can trample the trauma of Emily's first 2 years of life.
We expect the trauma in her life to be lived out when we get her (and beyond). But there's a reality that trumps the trauma. It is the reason we gave Emily the middle name "Hope". We have a tangible hope. Emily has a tangible hope. A hope that says her future is bright. A hope that can only be found in Christ. We have the hope of knowing that we were adopted by God, through the price of His only son (Ephesians 1:5). This hope gives us everlasting joy, despite any circumstances we may be surrounded by. I expect our trip to China and our uniting with Emily to be chaotic at best. But I also expect that our God can and will transform this experience in to a life of joy for us and for Emily. God is good. This has been true throughout our journey and it will remain true when we bring our sweet Mei Mei home.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)