Today we meet Johnathan, our newest nephew whose first home was here in China. Today his forever-parents hold him for the first time. Today his six-year old brother finally gets “to pick up his baby.”
I have lots of big feelings about it.
He’s been loved for a long time. Even before his face was known (and COME ON, could there be a cuter melt-Auntie-Boo’s-heart-face!?). But he doesn’t know it.
His adoption has been in process for years, even before he was conceived. But he doesn’t know it.
We’ve been en route for several days. But he doesn’t know it.
He doesn’t know that there’s a space already reserved for him at the Thanksgiving table. Or that there’s a Christmas stocking already hung by the chimney with his name on it. He doesn’t know that he has a mom and a dad and a brother. And aunties and uncles. And a nana and a grandpa doc. He doesn’t know all that is waiting for him.
Wow, right? It’s beautiful and crazy and amazing and insane.
He also doesn’t know that the life he’s had – for better and for worse – is about to change. Forever. That he’s not just on a car ride for the day, but he has left the only place he’s known as home. That he will be leaving his culture in exchange for another. That those who will become family will first be strangers. That he might be scared, even though there’s nothing to fear.
We’ve been anticipating him. But he has no way of anticipating us.
There’s a beautiful parallel in this when you think about God calling us His adopted kids. He pursued us when we didn’t even know He was coming. He planned and prepped things we could never imagine for ourselves. I love this imagery and I think it’s a powerful part of the adoption process.
But I also find myself mindful of the grief to come. His grief. It’s inevitable. Every adoption story has it. There is inherent loss for every adopted child, no matter how great the love or family offered to him.
I don’t know his story until now. There’s much of it that we’ll never know. But he has one. And while I’m so excited to be a part of the rest of his story, to be his Auntie Boo, I can’t help but wonder whether he has other Aunties that even now are sad to say goodbye to him. I hope so. I hope that he’s been loved well his first fourteen months. I hope there’s something much to grieve.
Because there’s much to celebrate. And he doesn’t know it – yet. It may, in fact, take quite awhile for him to know either the grief or the gain. And that’s ok – it’s why God’s placing him in a family, so he will have a safe place for both. Again, such a picture of the gospel.
So today, while it will be filled with photographs and paperwork and smiles and squeals and questions and (some) answers, and the beginning of a new family, first it’s a reflection of this ancient, timeless truth:
In this is love, not that we first loved Him, but that He first loved us. We love because He first loved us. – 1 John 4:10, 19