We are thankful that the Smith family invited us into their beautiful and broken adoption story today.
I am a goer and doer type of person, which is not very conducive to reflection. Today, however, I reflect.
Just over a year ago, Andrea and I made the long journey to Xi’an, China, to pick up a little boy that we had never met, never talked to, never played with, to be our son. His lips were blue, his fingertips and toes were blue. He was sick; he had a heart defect and his birth parents couldn’t take care of him. He was alone…It makes me tremble to write those words.
The journey there was exhausting and we had very little time to rest. We made it to Beijing around 8pm, sat down and had some dinner with complete strangers (who would eventually become great friends), then we went back to the hotel to get some sleep.
After 4 hours of sleep, we were awake and few hours later we were on another plane headed to Xi’an. Once we got off the plane we were herded onto a bus and taken to the hotel. We had twenty minutes to take our luggage up to our room and get back downstairs. Then, we were rushed off to a government building in Xi’an. Exiting the elevator we could hear children yelling… the time had come to meet this stranger we had been working and saving and sacrificing for four years to love.
Andrea had hurried down the hall ahead of me, so when I came up to the door she was already holding Shuai Shuai. A beautiful, dark-haired, brown-eyed boy, he was pale, weak, silent, and scared. I have a vivid memory of looking up in that room and seeing all of those children who were having the only lives that they had ever known ripped away from them. They were terrified. Some sat in stunned, shocking silence, while others cried. It was gut wrenching. It was heart-breaking. It was emotional…surreal.
Simeon was emotionless. He was wearing a pink shirt and bright pink shoes. His head was shaved and he sat motionless staring off into space. He really didn’t care that we were there. We were told to expect that. Nevertheless, I struggled with fear. Would this change? Would he ever love us back? Would he stay like this? What if? What if? What if? One moment of intense clarity was when we made our oath. We were asked to raise our right hand and swear that we would not abandon this little boy. We joyfully and soberly promised to love this little boy we didn’t even know. Our mind was made; we were going to love this boy no matter what. We will never leave nor forsake you!
Simeon was not doing well physically. He was very weak, hungry, and tired. I was not mentally prepared for this. I won’t soon forget the first time we changed his diaper. When I took his clothes off to see that tiny, frail, body, I wept. I was devastated. I was angry. I physically hurt for this little stranger that was now my son. How could he be so undernourished? Why was he so weak? Again, I struggled with fear. How sick was he really? Would he get better? Was he having other problems? What kind of suffering has this little boy been through? I didn’t know. The only thing we knew was this: By God’s grace we are going to love this child as our very own.
A year later it is a whole different story. That little, frail, emotionless, tiny boy is now a son, a brother, a friend, a grandson, and a nephew to countless people who love him and care for his well- being. He has put on tons of healthy weight, all of his teeth have come in, he runs, he laughs, he smiles. It is truly amazing. How could a boy change that much in 365 days? The Grace of Adoption and Family.
I am often overwhelmed by the beauty of adoption. Every friend, family member, brother and sister in Christ in my life, is now his. This child, once abandoned, now has an entire community of people who love him. This is beauty of adoption. For this I weep tears of joy. I want to say thank you to all of you who gave, who encouraged us when we were down, who prayed when we travelled, who helped with our children in the States, who have rejoiced with us in our victories and mourned in our defeats. God used each of you, and you know who you are, to make this possible.
It is because of you that I can joyfully say of Simeon Hosea Smith,
“You are my son, with you I am well pleased!”