Today is packing day, the last day in China for Melissa, Traci, and Beckett. As they wait for Beckett's visa from the consulate, they will be packing suitcases and preparing for the long day of travel tomorrow. They begin their day with a van ride into Hong Kong, which is white knuckles for nearly 3 hours. They then fly 15 hours into Dallas. It is here that the magic begins.
They will go through Customs, as all international travelers do. Melissa will hand the Customs agent the infamous "brown envelope," which she has kept guarded and unopened for over a week. The agent will open this envelope, ask Melissa a few questions, and then look at our son and welcome him as a United States citizen. I first experienced this 4 years ago with our first adoption, and it was incredibly emotional to know my two kids were now citizens of my beloved country. It is even more awesome as I see the similarity to God welcoming us all into His family, the citizenship of His kingdom, when we experience His Grace. Just as Melissa traveled such a long journey to bring home our son, Christ traveled beyond the grave to bring us home to His family. This is what drives us to adopt. Knowing God has a heart and love of orphans, and experiencing the Grace I have received in Spiritual adoption, I, we as a family, desperately want to expand His kingdom through obedience to His call.
We have seen such a change in our little boy over the past 9 days. He allowed little physical contact the first couple of days. He would not eat, and did little more than lay and hold his ball. He disregulated quickly when faced with any change in routine. Day by day, however, through love, patience, and His mercy, we have seen this little guy grow and slowly escape his little cocoon. He has found comfort in Melissa's lap, laughed at her touch and play, smiled at her smile and kisses. He walks around the room, finding things to play with, climbing into and out of his crib, sitting in the floor alone to play and entertain himself. He was lethargic and sick when he came into our care, making only the occasional mouth clicks. He now will climb into his stroller and tell his mama "chu chu", which means "go" in Mandarin. He tells her "boo", meaning "no," when he wants to be left alone. He drinks juice and take his milk readily. He has come alive. He seeks the closeness of his mama and Aunt Traci. He is truly miraculous.
Each night before bed, my kids and I have gathered to pray over these 3 in China. My kids have prayed for their safety, for their health. I have heard my 6 year old son pray for the bonding between Melissa and Beckett. 6 year old... Tonight, as we Skyped with them, we watched as Melissa kissed on Beckett and tickled him. He smile and laughed at her, his little face lighting up in delight. Corbin, who is 9, leaned over to me and said, "that is answers to our prayers." My heart filled with pride, knowing they had prayed, not recited what they heard me pray. They get it, and it is glorious to be a part of.
This adoption has changed us, more than our first and possibly more than any experience to date. We have had to rely on God's grace and power more than ever. We had a sick child in a country unfamiliar. He could not communicate and did not eat. We chose to not travel together for the sake of our kids, which made for its own difficulties away from one another. Though we at home could not help comfort our son or meet his or mama's needs in China, we could cover her daily in prayer and fasting. Her travel has been surrounded with fasting and prayer. We have lifted each other with words and encouragement. And mama has had intense and intimate time with our new son, to focus on learning who he is and what his needs truly are. She has amazed me with her insight into this complex and awesome guy. He has flourished in her love and adoration. I watch in awe as the Glory of the Father rests on my bride and covers this little boy so hurt and scarred by early neglect, but now lavished in nurturing, motherly love. I am blessed to call her my bride.
Please keep this family in your prayer. Though this journey to China is nearly complete, this journey of adoption is merely beginning. Beckett bears our name, and has our hearts, but melding into a family takes time. We know it will be trying at times, but we are in this completely, sold out to the call.
Today we both thought back on some of our parenting mistakes with each of our children. Though we were inclined to our regrets, I was reminded that our journey of Grace is all too often laden with mistakes as well. It is a journey, and it must maintain the course toward Grace, no matter the setbacks. If we can maintain Grace in our parenting, and keep the course toward Grace, we will get it right. I see it in their prayers, in their adoration of Beckett, in their love of other orphans and kids in foster care. His Grace is sufficient, and I pray it encompasses all we do in this crazy world of Smith, party of 8.