To my four beautiful, wonderful, amazing kids who work extra hard, deal with so much, and so long for healing peace, I love you. You fill me with joy, drive me to my knees, cause my heart to similtaneously ache and burst with pride, and make each day an adventure. I wouldn't want to do life with any other kids. I pray for you, I celebrate you, I hurt with you, I honor you, and I'm proud of you. We are in this together. You have my heart.
I sat in church on Mother's Day this year with tears streaming down my face. It was unexpected. I couldn't stop. I wasn't prepared. Familiar images played across the screen as the words spoken by the woman portrayed made my heart ache. It was meant to be a testimony, a mission success, an example of grace...but for me, it released emotions I didn't even realize were so close to the surface. How could anyone know that the mother sitting towards the back was all too familiar with the sights, sounds, and emotions of this reality? How could they know that her journey of parenthood had begun in this very country with children not unlike this young woman?
My sons. My heart. Orphans no more and yet orphans who once lived in an orphanage. They did not age out like this young woman. They were not told that their worth was only to be a prostitute like this young woman was told. But that could have been them and that is the reality of many of the children they once shared a crib with, a room with, an institution with. And I sobbed. The words and memories she openly shared and the images of her orphanage were overwhelming to me. In that moment, I could see and smell all that I know too well - the babies we met plus the older kids when I returned. The institutional hierarchy, the abuse, the hopelessness...it was too familiar.
My sons deal with the effects of being institutionalized for even the relatively short time they resided in their baby houses - scars and wounds and brain changes that should never be a part of any child's history. My heart couldn't handle the pain. The tears stopped, but my heart still aches. It probably always will. The reminders. The triggers. The reality. It is a pain that it is so hard to explore and yet ever present. It changed me forever. On an already complicated day one month ago, I wept.