13 September 2017
It is already September 14th in China 🙂 Birthday Blessings to our Little Empress, Song-Felicity Therese! 4 years ago today you arrived in southern China on your way to join our family before we even knew it! You are, beyond any doubt, the bravest person your mama has ever known. While you were still only 2, you had lived in an orphanage and in 3 different homes. You had navigated open heart surgery without a family by your side, had acquired 3 different languages and lived on 2 continents…all the while maintaining the deepest, truest joy I have ever encountered. Knowing you and witnessing your strong, sweet grace brings me to my knees. These past 15 months as your mother have been among the most enchanted and blessed of my life. I have witnessed you fall in love with Curious George, Mickey Mouse and Mulan, master the English language, and blossom into the most precious baby sister possible. You have stolen our hearts, Sissity, and we love you all the way around the world to China….and back. Forever and ever, Mama
I have searched exhaustively for a puzzle of China I love enough to frame and hang in our home. After searching and ultimately finding this wooden puzzle through a friendly contact in Beijing, we waited nearly three months for its arrival. I LOVE IT! It is PERFECT! It is the image of a 1944 vintage children’s map of China and it will be charming framed and hanging in our home. In honor of expecting our 8th child, an $8 donation secures a piece of this wooden puzzle in your name. Once it is completed and framed, your name will be listed on the back as a perpetual reminder to our child and to our family of the community who joined us on our pilgrimage to bring her home. Donations can be made through PayPal to email@example.com Please leave your name in the comments section as you wish it to appear on the back of the puzzle.
6 June MMXVII
14 May MMXVII
This Mother’s Day weekend has been an especially emotional one. I have been hyper aware of the Heavenly Mother I share with my Lord as the 100th anniversary of her revealing her presence to three shepherd children in Portugal is celebrated throughout the world. I cannot contemplate God sharing His own Mother with me without surrendering to an intimate emotion within my awareness.
My first baby will finish high school next weekend and embrace college while my youngest is in my arms on this day devoted to mothers for the first time. And I am ever aware that, in addition to our mother in heaven, I have been blessed with an earthly mother, grandmothers and other precious women God has sent to “mother” me. I love them all.
But this year, I am most in awe of a mother I have never met though I feel like I know her deeply. Perhaps my life is more intertwined with hers than it is with any other mother’s this side of heaven. Because we share our hearts with the same daughter.
So as I contemplate and ponder this first Mother’s Day with Song-Felicity home, I achingly long to talk to the first Mama who mothered her. As I await that day, I have spent the afternoon writing her a letter in faith that she will some day receive it whether in this life or the next.
Dearest precious friend,
As I approach the one year anniversary of mothering our daughter face to face, I must share with you all of the things about her that I would want to know if time and distance separated me from her. Please rest in an awareness that she is loved deeply, cherished deeply and treasured deeply by each of us. Her health and mind and sweet spirit are thriving. You are right. She IS strong!
Our baby is a girly girl! Her favorite color is pink. She reminds us of this regularly. I tease her that she gets it from me but I suspect she may have also gotten it from you. I like thinking that we have things in common and that parts of me were already familiar to her from knowing you. She loves to get dressed and for me to brush her hair. Her favorite accessory is shoes! She would wear them to bed if we let her!
She is particularly fond of Mickey Mouse…not Minnie…she always reminds us she is a Mickey girl. She also likes Daniel Tiger and we watch them both most mornings after her siblings go to school. She sits in her tiny rocking chair in her mermaid tail blanket with a sippy cup of milk and munching a bowl of cereal. These mornings have been magical for me witnessing her grow comfortable as she has settled into the safety and security of our home.
She loves to eat. She has gained 6 pounds in the 11 months since she came home with us. She loves eggs and sausage for breakfast and her BaBa makes them for her regularly. She loves pizza and chicken and adores green vegetables, especially broccoli. She loves apples and grapes and granola bars. She still squeals with delight when we bring her a dragon fruit. She eats every single tiny seed. I suspect they remind her of China. They remind me of China and I love them too!
She gallops everywhere she goes and hums when she is happy. She sings in church with passion! She loves to dance and is excited to begin ballet lessons with her Aunt in the Autumn. She will also begin piano lessons this summer. A dear friend is giving them to her as a gift. I cannot wait to see what she thinks of music and I wonder if you are musical.
She loves China. She has now mastered English well enough to tell me she does. She loves pandas and her stuffed dragon and watching Mulan. She has recently told us that the ayis at the orphanage “gave her a bath and brushed her teeth” and “were nice” to her. This is so comforting to my heart and I know it is to yours! During the time we waited to get to her, I agonized over the uncertainties about her care. I know you have agonized too. We tell her that we love the ayis because they took such great care of her. We pray for them and thank God for the tender way they tended to our daughter.
She loves each of her 6 siblings and regularly tells them and us that we are “all hers”. She loves nothing more than all of us being home together. She tells me she is “Mama’s baby” and it melts my heart. I am very aware that she would not be so preciously attached to me now if she had not been so strongly attached to you first. Numerous experts have told me that my greatest gift is the way she was loved by, and connected to, you. You taught her what a mother is and how to be loved by one. Thank you. More than I can ever, ever say.
She looks deeply into my eyes each night before she goes to sleep and I wonder if I am looking into eyes that reflect yours. They are lovely and dark and deer like. She falls asleep on my chest most nights. She sucks her right thumb and strokes my neck with her left hand with her head tucked tightly between my head and my shoulder. I know she is asleep when her tiny fingers are finally still on my neck and I often hold onto her tiny sleeping self and think of you. I suspect she may have fallen asleep with you the same way. I can never resist running my fingers through her silky black hair and I always wonder if it feels like yours.
These days, when I see newborn Asian babies, I grieve some. I grieve because they reflect a season of our daughter’s life that I will never witness. But my thoughts quickly turn to you and I am aware that our daughter’s newborn season is yours for you to treasure and for you to hold on to and I am grateful for that. I pray it brings you comfort and I long for a day when we might meet and fill in the gaps we both have in our daughter’s life.
Today is recognized as Mother’s Day in America. There is no way I can celebrate this day, or any day involving our precious baby girl, without celebrating you. No two mothers could be tied together more tightly through motherhood than we have been tied together through the same daughter. Thank you for loving her first and for loving her well. I can say with complete confidence that no one recognizes the sacrificial way that you have loved her more than I do. Because I love the same daughter deeply. I know the rip that would remain in my own heart if she was no longer with me. I can glimpse the depths of anguish to which you went to love her. She will know this, too. I will remind her and re-remind her my whole life.
Please know always that when you let her go in faith, she landed in the arms of one who will love her perpetually for you and with you.
May all of the blessings of this, and every Mother’s Day, be yours.
Until our paths cross…
Your daughter’s other mother
Perhaps my most favorite Chinese gift is the charming jewelry lock that is traditionally gifted to children in China. The lock symbolizes the “locking” in of good luck and fortune for the child’s future. When we adopted our daughter last year, we returned from China with matching lock charms for each of our children as both pieces of Chinese tradition and as symbols of “locking” them together as forever siblings. These bracelets are silver plated copper and are quite substantial. They are also expandable so that they fit from the newest of babies up to my 6 year old daughter.They make precious birthday, welcome home or Gotcha Day gifts. A lovely tinkling sound chimes as the precious little ones move their sweet hands.They are $16 a piece or 2 for $30. SHIPPING IS INCLUDED! They come with an enclosure card citing the scripture from Deuteronomy 33:25: “Your gates will have locks of iron and bronze and you will be strong as long as you live.” Proceeds go toward the adoption process of our next child in China.
Payments can be made via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org Please leave your shipping address in the comments section. Or message me to arrange for local delivery.
9 March MMXVII
Today is one that has been quietly hovering since I became aware that Song-Felicity was our daughter and that she was, unknowingly, waiting for us to get to her. It is one I have silently anticipated with both sorrow and sadness and yet also with a deep, hushed, joy.
Today marks the day that Song-Felicity has been in my arms longer than she was in the arms of her China mother. And my awareness of that makes my heart swell with gratitude and break all at the same time. During these past nine months I have been gifted with a front row seat to God’s redemptive and restorative work in the life of His beloved child from China and my heart has completely claimed Song-Felicity as my daughter. I have witnessed her grief giving way to joy and her insecurities thaw as cautious trust emerges. I sense the assurance that this fragile trust and security will only take deeper and sturdier root as she continues to grow and bloom within the garden enclave of our family. Through her homecoming, I have gleaned a precious glimpse into the way the Father longs to adopt us all and to cradle us as His children.
But with each day that passes my recognition of my daughter’s China mother has grown and taken root within me as well. I can no longer feel the deep joy that radiates from being in the presence of our precious girl without also feeling the weight of the sorrow I know another mother is carrying in her absence. Watching this child grow so sick and weak that her only glimmer of hope rested in an uncertain mercy of strangers coming to her rescue is beyond unimaginable to me. My heart is not yet ready to leave Song-Felicity for even a single morning of preschool. Yet she was loved so very selflessly before by a mother who longed for the healing our daughter’s tiny broken heart enough to trustingly trade it for an eternal break in her own. And I am becoming ever more aware that, through sharing in the maternity of our child, we will perpetually share in that heartbreak as well.
This Lenten season provides a lovely lens through which to view this paradox of juxtaposed grief and joy. And I am growing to suspect that anything of authentic beauty often blooms in the midst of pain. Newborn children through the labor of child birth, rainbows through frightening storms, strength through tempted weakness, dawn through deep darkness…
And His glorious resurrection through the despair of death.
We are selling these ancient coin Valentine ornaments again as our first fundraiser toward bringing our next child home from China. I make them from authentic ancient Chinese coins. The coins are from the Song Dynasty or the Tang Dynasty and many of them are over 1000 years old! No two coins are alike so they are truly a unique gift. They are each entwined with a symbolic red cord and come with a card quoting the Chinese Proverb: “An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet. Regardless of time, place or circumstance, the thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.”
They are $20 each and I have about 50 of them. We are happy to deliver if you are local. Or you can pay through PayPal at anneelizabethwilliams (at) gmail (dot) com and leave your address in the comments (or send it to me by email).
5 February MMXVII
The most accurate way to describe our journey to Song-Felicity is as a pilgrimage. Pilgrimages involve search and sacrifice and stepping outside of our comfort zones and blindly into faith. They lead to encounters with God often in unknown and unfamiliar places. The pilgrims regularly know little about the destination of the pilgrimage. They choose to embark upon it in faith that God will intimately reveal both Himself and His Will if they follow His Call in a faithful willingness to follow wherever it leads.
When we recognized that we were being called to Song-Felicity, we knew nothing of navigating adoption, nothing of China and nothing of immigration issues. We knew only that she was our daughter and that God was clearly calling us to her. We did not know how we would get there…only that we were beckoned to go.We trusted God to open the doors to her and that our time in China would both unite us with our daughter and reveal, in some way, the One Who had called us to her.
And we did indeed encounter God on our journey to Song-Felicity. Through His way too numerous orphaned children, we entered into both His love and His heartbreak. We were changed. Our hearts were broken into pieces that could grieve and break for His orphaned children, too. The people we were when we left for China were not the people who returned to our home only two weeks later. Our hearts had fallen deeply in love with our daughter and had simultaneously broken into painful pieces for the children who could not yet call anyone, this side of eternity, Mother or Father. Though parts of our hearts will now ache perpetually, we would not have it any other way. Our hearts have now been broken enough to make room to carry His other orphaned children within them, too.
Jimmy and I want to share that we are beginning another adoption journey to China. After months of prayer and discernment, we recognize clearly that God has another one of our children waiting for us there. This journey will be somewhat different. We are taking the more traditional route of getting approved by China and U.S. immigration before matching with our child this time. With Song-Felicity, we specifically requested her from the beginning. This process will take longer, 12 to 24 months. But the increased time will give us a longer window to fund raise the huge costs involved and will lower the time crunch for paperwork during this already hectic season of our lives.
We do know that the child who will be joining our family will most likely be about 18 months old and will have some medical needs. We have been deeply discerning what needs we feel we can parent and are already in awe of the way that discerning them alone is stretching our hearts.
We recognize that what we perceive as our calling may look more like insanity to others 🙂 We are okay with that. Just know that we have prayed and researched and sought spiritual direction regarding this leap of faith and that there is no way we could possibly be any more certain about it.
In all likelihood, we have a child who, at this very moment, is in a Chinese orphanage or in the womb of a frightened and desperate China mama. Whatever the case, please join us as we cover both of them in our prayers.
Our next pilgrimage has begun.