19 October MMXVII
I love clothes. More than likely, way too much. I deeply enjoy getting ready for my day, drinking a cup of coffee and deciding what I am going to wear. I love everything about them. I love fine fabrics and lovely colors. Linens and silks and fine cottons all speak to me. I enjoy the way clothes allow me to express outwardly who I am inwardly. My affinity for clothing has been something I have struggled to keep in check for as long as I can remember…constantly discerning “needs” from “wants”. When I was younger and discerning religious life, I was teased that I would need to find an order that would allow me wear a designer habit.
I am a dress and skirt girl. I find nothing wrong with jeans and more casual clothing, but I like the way dresses and skirts make me feel feminine and pretty. I have never outgrown delighting in the fabulous feeling of twirling like a ballerina in a skirt.
Nearly 3 years ago, I found myself, very unexpectedly, sticking my toe into international adoption waters and I was quickly christened into the adoption t-shirt phenomenon. Many adopting families design and sell these shirts to help with the oppressive costs of adoption, immigration and travel. The first shirts I purchased were before I ever suspected we had a daughter waiting for us in China. I purchased them because they made me feel good. I could give something so little and become a part of something so very, very big. I had purchased my first few from families who were strangers to me. The sacred community of international adoption grows quite small quite quickly. I liked the thought of having contributed to families finding each other…brothers coming home from Africa, a daughter longed for and welcomed from India, a breathtaking blessing of a baby girl from Vietnam, and, of course, numerous children who were waiting in my, now beloved, China.
I never anticipated wearing the t-shirts really. They were not quite my “dress and skirt” type of taste. But when the first ones began to arrive, I HAD to have them on me! I loved being reminded of the children I had never met who had, nonetheless, been written on my heart. The fundraising t-shirts kept these children and their families and the oceans that still separated them perpetually in my prayers. It felt so good to be clothed in all of these warm, holy feelings. I quickly acquired quite a collection and believed I could not love them more.
Until just a few months later.
We found ourselves trying very suddenly and desperately to get to Song-Felicity on the other side of the sea. We had an insufficient financial reserve to fund the process but a whole lot of faith that she was ours. We stepped out in a trust that the same God Who was calling us to her was going to equip us to get there and my precious goddaughter designed OUR first adoption fundraising t-shirt.
There are no words to capture the warm feelings of support that comfort and encourage our family when we see people wearing our shirts. And nothing brings me to tears as quite as quickly as receiving notice that one of our adoption shirts has been purchased by a stranger. It is truly like a hand from heaven reaching down to encouragingly reassure us that God is calling the people He has chosen to get us to our daughter. Though we do not know them, He does. Nothing can be more beautiful or humbling than witnessing His people say “yes” to His prompting to help one of His children get home. There is nothing more profound than experiencing His love in that way or in giving it that way to others.
And perhaps the t-shirts express their purposes most profoundly when they are being worn in country by excited, nervous, frazzled adopting parents on their pilgrimages to bring their children home. We silently support each other by wearing each other’s shirts on air planes, in civil affairs offices, in police stations and to dreaded doctor appointments in foreign lands. They are silent witnesses to the fraternity we share with all families who have navigated red tape and financial mountains and the very seas themselves to get to their children. I often weep on Monday mornings when the “Gotcha Day” photos from the day before begin to post. I witness seemingly infinite longings satisfied with full laps and holy tears…all the while wrapped in t-shirts that helped to make it happen a few dollars at a time.
My t-shirt collection is now precious and sacred to me. It represents homecomings I have had the honor of having a small part in. It represents babies who are safe now. Who belong now. Who have finally found their way home to their mamas now.
These days, chances are that if you run into me you will find me in an adoption t-shirt (paired with a fabulous skirt!) Never has my clothing more authentically expressed who I am…a woman humbled by the generosity of both friends and strangers who helped me to get to my daughter, a passionate mama of babies from both sides of the globe…and who loves, more than anything, to be a part of other families finding their way to each other, too.
Our adoption t-shirt fundraiser ends tomorrow. Proceeds all go toward our pending adoption from China. If you would like to join us on this pilgrimage to our next child, our shirts can be purchased here: https://www.bonfire.com/joy-to-the-world/