Wednesday, September 19, 2012


First of all, I would like to go ahead and confess ... I am a bad blogger. I didn't have access to the blog while we were in China, and it has taken me a couple of weeks to get into enough of a groove (and process my thoughts) to write anything. Thanks to my husband for buying me some time with his awesome posts. He is definitely the writer in our family! This trip was a life-changing experience. It was wonderful, and exhausting, and hard, and completely amazing all at the same time. It may take a long time to really process and fully understand how God will use every aspect of it for His glory, but I truly believe He will.  

"Gotcha Day"

This was a term I've heard and highly anticipated experiencing for a long time. Since we got the boys the day they were born, we didn't exactly know how to define "Gotcha Day" for them. Should we celebrate it on their birthdays or the day we finalized their adoptions ... which seemed more like a formality since we had "gotten" them months before?

But with Charlotte, we've been looking at pictures of a real little person who was getting bigger by the day. We've been longing to see her and wrap our arms around her for so long, and "Gotcha Day" was the day that dream would be realized. I've watched enough videos and read enough blogs to know that every child reacts differently on Gotcha Day. I've seen babies go straight to their mama's arms without so much as a whimper. I've seen the new parents peel them off the nanny as the poor child screamed in terror. So I tried not to have any expectations for how the day would play out. I was ready for anything. Prepared.

But I so wasn't.

There is a song called "What Now" by Steven Curtis Chapman that has haunted me for years. Every time it would come up on my playlist over the past few months, these words would just about do me in:

I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl. 
She was standing in the corner on the other side of the world. 
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my heart, 
"Didn't you say you wanted to find me? Well here I am. Here you are. 
So what now? What will you do now that you found me? 
What now? What will you do with this treasure you found? 
I know I may not look like what you expected. 
But if you'll remember, this is right where I said I would be. 
You found me. What now?

I tried not to have expectations for how Charlotte would react, but I did expect a profound experience. I sort of pictured this ray of light shining down from Heaven. :) I thought I would feel a sense of completeness ... like this was the moment God had been preparing me for all my life. I really thought we'd be in a crowded room in some kind of government building with lots of other parents receiving their children at the same time. People have told me it's pretty chaotic, but so amazing to see all these families coming together. If I'm being honest, I expected a little magic.

It wasn't like that at all.

We flew into the capital of Jiangxi, Charlotte's province, on Sunday, August 26. Our guide, Mary, met us at the airport and told us our daughter had fallen at the orphanage a couple of days earlier and had five stitches in her forehead. Not great news, but we tried not to be too worried. We were driven to our hotel and told to unpack and relax (yeah, right!) for about an hour until we received the call that the orphanage director had arrived with our child.

After a very anxious hour or so, there was a knock on the door. No heads-up. No phone call. A knock on our hotel room door! Scott scrambled to get the camera ready while I opened the door for Mary, three official-looking people from the orphanage, and one scared-looking little girl.

They had her in this fancy dress (complete with blue socks and black sandals!) and one of the women held her hand and tried to get her to walk toward me while saying emphatically, "Mama! Mama!" She was having no part of it! She cried and backed away ... as any two-year-old should if someone is pushing them toward a stranger! I wanted so much to put her at ease, so I knelt down and sat her in my lap rather than pick her up.

It all seems like a blur now, but over the next few minutes Mary introduced us to the two women and the male doctor who had traveled with Charlotte since she was injured and on medication for bronchitis and a lung infection. She went over some paperwork and instructions for her medications and having her stitches cleaned. And then they left.

We were alone in our hotel room with this sad, confused little girl in a fancy dress. We spent the next few hours trying to entertain her with toys and books. Our guide brought us dinner, and Charlotte ate her first meal with her new family. Stuffed-crust pizza. She wasn't really upset. Just kind of blank. She was out cold before 7:00 ... exhausted from what must have been one of the scariest days of her life.

There was no beam from Heaven. No magic. The whole day was kind of ... awkward.

Of all the emotions I thought I would feel on "Gotcha Day," the one I least expected was fear. I laid awake the entire first night we had our daughter ... so afraid. Not because I didn't love her. I was afraid she wouldn't be okay. Maybe she had been "shut down" emotionally for too long. I was afraid the trauma of her first two years of life – two years that we know so little about – had scarred her irreparably. And I was a little afraid that there had been no magical feelings.

Did this mean we were wrong somehow? If this is where Jesus was, then how come all I saw was a wounded little girl? How come I didn't recognize him?

34 “Then the King will say to the people on his right, ‘Come, my Father has given you his blessing. Receive the kingdom God has prepared for you since the world was made. 35 I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your house.
36 I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’37 “Then the good people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our house? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?’
40 “Then the King will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.’

I wish I could say these verses came to me right then. They didn't. I spent that night begging God to make her okay.

And though I have no promises that she'll ever fully recover from her trauma, or feel secure in this forever family, or know without a single doubt that her mama would never abandon her, God has given us hope each day as we watch the spirit of a lively, giggly, curious little girl emerge from behind those sad eyes we looked into on August 26th.

I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl. I didn't recognize him because I'm not as familiar with the "least of his people" as I should be. The "least of his people's" pain has never been so personal to me. It's never kept me up all night begging God to make it stop.

The first time I looked into my daughter's eyes wasn't the divine moment I was expecting because the "divine" has been watching this face ...

turn into this face. 

The divine will be watching God heal the deep wounds in this child's heart for good ... and knowing He's changed her name from orphan to daughter.


  1. First, Amy you are a writer! This post is beautiful and has me sobbing. She is your girl! Love you guys!

  2. Ditto what Leslie said. What a great "Gotcha" post!

    I was petrified too when we first got our Charlotte--and stayed that way for months! We received her in one of those crowded, noisy orphanage rooms like you were expecting. Charlotte was sobbing and pushing against me with all her might. All I could think was, "What have I done?"

    Three months later, I looked at her sweet face and realized I would want to die if anything happened to her. Without knowing it, I had fallen completely and permanently in love!

  3. Been waiting on your words. This was so real and kind of post, Amy. So glad I get to watch God mold and shape your amazing family. She is beautiful!!

  4. Thank you for sharing ALL of this, Amy!! Those before and after pictures - it is amazing what LOVE can do!!

    Love to you all!