I remember just as well the moment I stood over a tiny baby’s crib in China and knew he needed heart surgery as quickly as possible and that I was one of the only people who knew that he did. My realization that day: that we can never allow our own fears of taking a risk and failing stop us from action. I was heart pounding scared to ask my friends to help him, but I learned the very real truth that we can accomplish amazing things when we step out in faith.
Not all truths bring joy, however. Some cause real sadness. But I believe all truths bring a clearer understanding of life. I have been struggling the last few months with the truth that my two youngest children lived as orphans. Of course I knew that….since that is the only way they can be in my family today. But recently, this truth has become much clearer to me, as recently I became a grandmother, and I have been able to see every day what a newborn baby wants and needs.
My grandson Asher is a total “tub of love”, and I would be happy holding him up to my cheek all day long if I could, just breathing in his babyness. We live to serve him, and to hear him cry even for a few minutes causes my heart pain. It seems like the second he makes noise, his mom moves into action. When he is hungry, he gets fed. When he is tired, he is rocked to sleep with a silk blankey and a lullaby. We spend hours gently talking to him, making eye contact, and letting him know that he is absolutely, 100% cherished.
In my great love for this child, however, I have had to face the deep realization of what my own two youngest children missed completely. My children never knew what it felt like to be an infant with a devoted mom. Even with the most loving of caregivers, I know my children knew hunger, knew loneliness, and knew bewilderment and frustration that their needs weren’t being met when they cried for help. They were orphans…in a room filled with babies and one lone woman trying to meet their most basic of needs. Of course I knew this somewhere inside of me because of my work, but the full knowledge of it didn’t take root until the arrival of my grandson. This realization has caused me great pain, because I love my children so completely. How I wish no child had to be alone. Every baby deserves someone to come when they call.
I look at my grandson, who has never known a moment of pain since his birth, and give such thanks that he is with us. And I look at my own beautiful Chinese children and am amazed and awed by the strength they probably don’t even realize they have. They are such incredible kids, filled with joy and laughter and hope, even after living as orphans. My newfound truth is that children have an unbelievable capacity to trust us, even when adults have let them down in the past, and even when no one had time to come when they called. My latest realization is that all of our children who have faced a portion of their lives as babies without mothers, never being tenderly cradled or rocked to sleep with a song…..all of those children are heroes to me. Their ability to trust again humbles me, and the love they so purely give to us shows me every day the absolute strength of the human spirit.
Let us all keep working to help those who still wait. Truly, they deserve all we have to give.