Our Adopted Savior

23 December MMXV
Christmas Eve in Guangzhou, China

Since becoming aware of our child in China, I am perpetually aware of the time of day in her city. When I glance at my watch or my phone, my mind automatically calculates the time in Guangzhou and I envision what Song-Felicity may be doing…awaking, napping, playing, being rocked or cuddled by someone loving….hopefully. Her schedule which has been sent to us has been studied and memorized and studied again. It is known by heart…by my heart. I always “know when she is sleeping and know when she’s awake.”

And I know that it is now the first early morning moments of Christmas Eve in Guangzhou.

As we enter into the holiest hours surrounding the Savior quietly arriving to dwell among us, my heart is reflecting on His birth from a somewhat different angle.

Historically, the focus of my reflection on His arrival has centered on His mother. As a Catholic Christian, she is precious to me. When Christ told the apostle John, “Behold your mother”, He told me to behold her as mine, too. I have always related to her as the mother I share with my Savior. And in the last two decades, as a mother myself, I have reflected on her role as the mother of God, even more. When I was expecting our 6th child, I was due Christmas Eve. My mind often contemplated the Blessed Mother and how very uncomfortable she must have been riding a donkey to Bethlehem while so “great with Child.” I was having a hard time finding a comfortable position in our heated van during those last few days before our child’s arrival. I was constantly reminded during that last stretch of pregnancy how, as Gabriel sweetly stated, she was so “full of grace”…a grace I indeed did not have as I waddled toward delivery.

But this year, I find my focus shifting toward St. Joseph. A growing awareness and appreciation of his role as an adoptive parent is taking root somewhere deep within me. He recognized that he was called to parent a Child who did not share the blood line running through his veins. He had enough grace to have faith in the faithfulness of his bride and in the God they both adored to embrace the role of parenting her Child. Surely, St. Joseph was familiar with some suspecting he was crazy for being confident that he was called to parent a child that was not his “own”. I find such comfort in knowing he likely understands that there is no way for a child to be more our own than for God to ask us to make it so. Somehow, the people who do not understand that pale in the light of the awareness that the man who adopted my Savior knows it intimately. He knew this insecurity and this honor, this holy humbling and this blessing.

I find myself reflecting on the way St. Joseph elegantly and faithfully lived out his call to father the Savior without turning back. Once he said “yes” to the call, he lived it out with a holy purpose. He protected the newborn Jesus and His mother. He abandoned family and career and security of any sort to flee to a foreign land for his Child’s protection. I admire his committed parental witness so much more this Christmas. I need it so much more. I cling to it so much more.

As this Christmas approaches, when I reflect on Baby Jesus, my heart is not only drawn to His heavenly Father but to His earthly one as well…the one who claimed Him and protected Him and loved Him as He dwelt among us. The Lord surely has a special place in His heart for adoptive families because, He, Himself, was born into one. This holy season, I am more aware than ever that, when we approach the manger, we approach it to adore an adopted Savior.

Faithful St. Joseph, patron of all adoptive parents,

Oro Pro Nobis!

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A Cloth Doll, A Fuzzy Blanket And A Pale Pink Tutu

I just mailed a somewhat heavy box to China with an undoubtedly heavy heart. I mailed the first Christmas gifts that Song-Felicity will ever receive from us and I was completely unprepared to feel the way I did when I walked out of the very crowded pre-holiday post office. Once the door to my van was closed and I was seated inside, quiet tears fell into my lap.

Toddlers are not supposed to receive Christmas gifts from their parents through post offices and governmental Customs agencies. They are supposed to receive them via a sleigh propelled by tiny reindeer while seated, still sleepy-eyed, on the laps of their mothers. And though I understand that Song-Felicity does not comprehend enough about us or about Christmas to be troubled by this distance or by these delivery methods, I do understand. And it breaks my heart so much more than I was prepared for it to.

So much of my heart went into that box. Williams children get three Christmas gifts just like Baby Jesus did and settling on the three gifts that were going to cross the sea to represent our heart for our child in China was more complicated than I thought it could possibly be. Through the years, we have parented six two-year-olds at Christmas time and, though none of them comprehended Christmas and its precious Gift, they each comprehended that Christmas is special…and that they are special…so very special to us.

This awareness is what I really longed to box up and send to our China baby girl for Christmas. And realizing that my longing could not truly be satisfied was unsettling…is unsettling…on a very deep level of my maternity.

The somber peace I ultimately find in our gifts is in the knowledge that, though Song-Felicity does not comprehend what we long to give to her for Christmas now, one day she will. So gifts were pondered and chosen that would hopefully represent our Christmas wishes for her. The gifts and their wishes were sent across the sea today.

Our infant Lord received gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh at His birth as symbols that pointed towards His identity. Gold because He is the King of all kings, frankincense because He is the Priest of all priests and myrrh to honor His ultimate sacrifice.

Our daughter is receiving symbolic gifts, too. Not so much symbolic of who she is but more so of our wishes and prayers for her:

A cloth doll…to symbolize our wishes for her to delight in this fleeting season that embodies the joys of childhood and make-believe…

A fuzzy blanket… to symbolize our longing for her to feel safe and secure and warm…

And a pale pink tutu…because pale pink is her Mama’s favorite color and because nothing makes a girl feel prettier than twirling in a tutu! Oh how I wish I could see her in it! I am confident that our lack of common language would in no way hinder her from instinctively twirling once her tiny body is inside of it!

Childhood joy, warm security and an awareness of her beauty as a daughter of the Infant King Whose birth we now recall…these are the Christmas wishes we sent across the sea today….with the prayer that we may never again spend a Christmas separated from each other by so much sea and by so much distance.

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An Advent Longing

2 December MMXV

It can be no coincidence that our very last documents for China were sent as Advent arrived on the calendar. It seems rather appropriate. No longer distracted by checking things off of our adoption “to-do” list, the real waiting begins.

But in a silent way, Advent’s arrival this year does not seem so evident for us. Perhaps because our family has been living in an Advent of sorts since June when Song-Felicity entered our hearts and they began aching and longing for her. Everything that Advent ushers in…the aching and the longing, the hope that the light of the Christ Child is indeed dawning just beyond a horizon that we can see…faith that He is on His way though our weary world remains so dark…all of these emotions have been living in our home long before this liturgical Advent fell upon us.

So I find myself, this season, already somewhat weary of Advent though we have only just entered into it. Perhaps because its spirit has lived with me for nearly six months now. And perhaps because, if there is ever a time that mothers will especially ache for and long for the presence of their children, it is certainly during this season.

I long to witness Song-Felicity’s face as the lights of her first Christmas tree twinkle. I long to see her as she tastes eggnog, or, as our little ones call it, “Christmas milk”, for the first time. I long to snuggle her by a fire in our fire place that her Daddy built. I long to tuck her in at night wearing the Christmas pajamas that each of her siblings wore before her and I long to arrange the blankets around her with my own hands.

Advent…the longing and the hoping and the waiting in faith for the Child whose arrival has been promised is upon us. And as tired as I am of this season of waiting, awaiting the Christ Child does make awaiting my own child a little bit easier. Because I wait in the awareness that He is already with her in the space and in the distance that create my waiting.

O come, o come Emmanuel…”God with us.”

God be with us as we endure this season awaiting our baby.

God be with Song-Felicity as You, Yourself, prepare her heart to receive us.

God be with her foster mother who cares for our child as her own until we can get to her.

God be with her China mother whose heart surely breaks eternally in our daughter’s absence

God be with children and parents everywhere who are separated from each other.
O come, O come Emmanuel!

Please, come quickly.

Advent Wreath