Today’s guest post is brought to you by Kelly Raudenbush. Enjoy!
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We had been home from China for only 2 days when we were asked it for the first time:
Does she feel like your own?
I don’t even remember quite how I answered as I was still blurry eyed with jet lag and the demands of 4 children who were very much not jet lagged.
Our adoption process had taken 3 years to the day. For a long time, we had been anticipating our daughter, talking about her, dreaming about her, preparing for her long before we knew who she was. All the sudden, the child we had imagined became a 10-month-old girl waiting for us in Shaanxi Province. And life changed. For the next 2 months as we waited to bring our daughter home, we “bonded” to the few images we had of her, studying them daily, looking for anything new we could find to help us know her better. It was surreal when we found ourselves on a plane to China and then sitting in a dingy, smoky office in Xi’an, our make-shift delivery room. Then, there she was, live and in person, the baby girl I had claimed as my own from across the world, the child we had already committed to loving forever.
She was smaller than I had pictured and surprised us with dimples and a little polka dot birthmark on her side. And, I found myself feeling a bit confused. I knew I loved her—but it wasn’t because I was in love with her. I didn’t even know her except for the very two-dimensional information we had received with her file like “fond of listening to music,” “She loves caretakers holding her to go outside to play,” “She is happy when someone play with her. If not, she would feel a little sad.” But, I had made the choice to love her and knew I would through God’s grace.
It was a full year later when I realized my love for her had somewhere along the way changed. I was running errands with Lydia in tow while the other children were at school, just an ordinary day really. She sat in the hip carrier on my side as I shopped, occasionally pushing aside her flyaway wisps of brown hair and giving her kisses on her forehead when she would snuggle extra close and tuck her arms in tight to me.
In that simple, seemingly mundane moment, I had an epiphany: I love this little girl. She is my daughter. Every little idiosyncrasy of my reaction to her was because I am her mother and she is my daughter. Every answer to her “why?”s, every glance down at her, every pat on her back and pet of her hair, every smile in response to someone we passed by who smiled at her…all was because I felt completely normal with her on my side, literally attached to me. There I was walking around in one of the mega home goods stores, and God did it again. He made the unholy, holy. He made the ordinary, extraordinary. I was shopping for jewelry displays, and I realized I was holding my daughter.
I don’t know how I answered that question when I had been home three days from China holding a baby girl who looked very different from me and who I had known for only 2 weeks. But, 2 1/2 years later, feel free to ask me that question. I don’t mind at all. I know just how to answer.
Forever changed by the experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly Raudenbush is a stay-at-home mom to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (editing professionally and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like as they seek to serve God and others on Kelly’s personal blog My Overthinking.