Thursday, July 22, 2010

lost and found

"suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  does he not leave the
 ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 
and when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. 
then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says,
 'rejoice with me; i have found my lost sheep.'"  ~ luke 15:4-6

i know for most of my writing over this past year i have kind of been connected to the bird thing.  perhaps even over-connected.  but today it was sheep.  today i looked at my little girl and thought of this precious little lamb.  this little lamb who was once lost.  as we drove to her orphanage this morning the story of  the lost sheep kept coming to mind.  i couldn't recall exactly how the verse went...but i remembered the part about the shepherd carrying this little lamb on his shoulders back home.  you've probably all seen that famous painting of Jesus carrying home the lost sheep....that was the image which was in my head as we traveled across guangzhou city this morning. 
 we were traveling to the place and to the people who had cared for bella for two years.  i have seen every picture of this place i could find on google.  i have dreamed strange and curious dreams about it.  i have prayed for the people. and though i hate to admit it, i have felt intense anger toward the orphanage director.  he withheld much information from us this entire year...and today i wasn't sure what my reaction might be if we should cross paths.  you've heard about the mama bear...well, she doesn't come out all that often...but if she was to rear her awful head, today could very well have been the day.
we stood outside the gate waiting our turn to go in.  the air was ripe with rain...the humidity oppressive.  we were melting just standing still and my stomach was tied up in nervous knots.   our guide, simon, was so cool and together and just kept talking and joking and attempting to ease our anxious minds.  he walked us around the courtyard as we waited.  we played on the playground with bella.  she held on tightly to her daddy.  the entire time at the orphanage she kept her two favorite fingers tucked securely in her mouth.  we weren't sure about bringing her, but were encouraged to do so.  the advice we were given was that it would be good for bella to see her orphanage and then walk back out the door with her parents.  i had my doubts, but we went forward with the plan. 
when finally it was time to go in, we were immediately struck with how clean and well run everything seemed.  we had been told of the orphanage's excellent reputation, but it was wonderful to see it with our own eyes.  we met several nannies and children who knew bella.  a few of the older children came over to see her and stare at us.  the nannies smiled and doted over bella.  she continued to bury her head against rick.  we had the chance to peek into classrooms and see children well attended.  oh, how i could have taken room-fulls of these precious children home.  in everything we saw, it was bella's dorm room that was most wrenching.  the nanny pointed out the very bed in which she had slept.  i stood over this metal crib with the straw mat and small pillow and could feel the deep, deep tears.  i had prayed so many prayers about this very bed...i had pictured her little body alone in its steel frame.  the beds were lined up in rows, one after another.  i couldn't imagine.  now i was standing in the very place she had been set down night after night.  in the past few nights we've had her with us, she has adored our rocking her, snuggling with her...has even ended up in bed between us the past two nights.  how in the world did this snuggly little thing we call bella, ever sleep in this sterile environment?  i was baffled.    as we left the room, simon pointed out a small chart outside the door.  there were many chinese names written on it...he showed us the place where bella's name had was waiting a new name.  simon said, "it will have another child's name soon...there is no shortage of children here."  i looked at those other names, not being able to read even one, but considered for a moment, what if each of these children were claimed by a family soon? what if. 
it was time to leave.  i was last out of the building.  in front of me i watched rick carrying bella in his arms out into the sunshine.  i believe i had written in several earlier posts how i longed for the moment i'd carry her out of this orphanage and into the china sunshine.  well, with the rain coming, there was little sunshine and i wasn't the one carrying her...but as i watched her snuggled deep in her father's arms i knew it was perfect.
while waiting for our driver the rain began.  i stood in the door of the orphanage and looked out into the heavy storm.  i felt the anger for this director and the anxiousness for this place completely leave my body.  i will never fully understand why we were denied so much information.  i have a better idea about it all now...but i will never completely get it. we prepared to leave, i realized it was time to let go of this place.  we were taking bella away.  her new life was about to begin and it was time to set down the baggage.  our arms were full of bella...we had no room to carry anything extra.

from the orphanage we drove back into the heart of the city toward the hospital in which bella was found two years ago.  for both of us, this was the more emotional part of our trip.   it felt a bit like a pilgrimmage as we traveled.    i knew with hearing that note read just a few nights earlier, this would be a hard place to see.  simon directed us around the 2nd floor of this hospital until we found the correct hallway/stairwell.    we pushed open a heavy metal door and found a small landing.  the walls were grimy with age.  i immediately noticed a cigarette in the corner.  it was the cigarette that started the tears flowing.  simon left us alone for a bit.  we kind of just sat there in the quiet of this place and held bella.  i thought of the parents who left her.  after now knowing their reasons, i could only grieve for them...pray for them.  i sat in this nondescript place and thanked God for His mighty work in bringing us to bella.  for an abandoned child to go from this stairwell to our arms is nothing short of a miracle.  this is God and only God.  we feel small in all of this. tiny.  minute.  i prayed for bella's future...we know with certainty her biological parents left her with great hope for a better future.  i prayed also for others who are broken hearted and abandoned.  abandonment isn't always about dirty stairwells and orphans...we know this.  but mostly as i sat there, i praised God.  praised Him for caring about the one lost little sheep. i praised Him because He is a God who cares for the least and lost. He cares for the one.  bella had so much against her.  born in poverty.  born a girl.  born with a heart defect. all of these are reasons enough in china for a hopeless future. we all walk around with a long list of reasons declaring our hopelessness.  even those of us lucky enough to be born in wealth, warmth and good health.   this might have been the place of bella's abandonment....but we will always think of it as the place she was found. "...and when he finds it, he joyfully puts the lost sheep on his shoulders and goes home."

"in the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that
 any of these little ones should be lost."  ~ matthew 18:14


Aus said...

Morning Jody (US time) - you sure pack a lot into your posts!!

We too think of our kids birth parents on a regular basis - you are so Blessed to have that note (They gave it to you right?) That will be a life time keepsake!

We're really glad that you went to the SWI and finding spot too - those are a big part of Bella's history - the part that brought her to her forever family! It was so important to our kids - and one day we'll travel back to China with them (as at least young adults) to see those places again - of this you can be certain!

So happy that you have a "Bella of the Ball!" - and such joy in your family!

hugs and prayers for continued goodness - aus and co.

Karen Boyer said...

Jody-I don't cry much about adoption posts-have read so many of them after working in the field as long as i have, but yours made me cry. I am so glad you had the opportunity (and thought) to pray with Bella at her finding spot. That will be a meaningful part of her story-along with the letter (treasure!) from her birthparents. I suspect she will want to hear her story over and over and you have some tools now to fill in that story. Blessings to you and your family.

myfourgems said...

another precious post, jody. it is such a generous gift you give us to share so intimately in this journey to your bella with you. i have been so mesmorized and excited about every morsel of bella while visiting my parents, and this morning i came up and my dad was sitting with his laptop and i heard music and said, is that jody's blog? he said yes, and that he had been so captured by your writing that he started the blog from the beginning and is reading it all the way through. you have a special gift of reaching to the heart with your words. you are precious and i love you.

Kris said...

Thank you Jody for generously sharing your story. I wanted to share with you a moment I had today.

After reading this latest entry I was feeling overwhelmed for you. I decided to step out into the sunshine of this beautiful day and reflect for a moment. To feel the moment...with the awe you so inspire in your posts. As I stood there I watched a plane in the horizon as it took off from the airport and thought of you on your journey across the ocean. As I was filled with the grace and wonder of God and the connection and joy I feel for you and your story, what must have been 1000 or more sparrows rose from the field directly in front of me and soared into the sky. It gave me goosebumps. It also reminded me how we are all connected in this wonderful, amazing and challenging life we have been given. I am thankful for it all and thankful to be able to share in yours!

KT said...

just weeping for you and for Bella.
How deep the Father's love for us

Sherry said...

Praising God with you today, Jody and Rick. "May the God of hope [continue} to fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Love and prayers,
the Harrell's