(I’ve taken back the mic …and changed my husband’s password. These antics of his surely will not happen again.)
“I want to be born again,” she said — big girl language from a little girl’s frame. Our Hope was getting baptized, one week before her 7th birthday, months after she said “yes” to Jesus as Lord in her life, and one year after she gained a father.
I thought this child would be my unravelling when she made herself vomit on Nate, just days after we got her. She had all the signs of a child who’d never known how to attach to another human being and I wondered what kind of bridge we’d need to build across a chasm five years old. She kicked and screamed and fought a daddy’s strong forearms around her story. She was street-smart, in the truest sense of the word. She’d figured out survival and had clawed her way to it.
She hid herself behind her abundant moxie.
But this man wanted to know her. And he wanted her to know him … as Daddy, an unfamiliar term with foreign implications.
She couldn’t stomach him.
For months after we returned home, she collapsed into girlish giggles every time Nate tucked her in at night. Love made her nervous under that thick skin of hers. Night after night he took her one arm, and then her other and clasped them behind his neck. “This is what daughters and daddy’s do, Hopey,” he said as he cuddled her. She needed definition for love.
So I rode her roller-coaster, up and down, many days, commiserating with the sympathetic gaze from a stranger at the grocery store who attempted to size up what we’d gotten ourselves into.
Until He told me it was time to tell her who she really was, in light of who He really is. And as I spoke, I needed to believe it. Adoption has a way of forcing a re-wiring — in us.
Between then and now I’ve watched Hope live her name. I have been unraveled. By hope. My expectations have been revealed as far too small against a God who can take a child raised, street-wild, and domesticate her heart.
My little girl writes me love notes and nestles her head up in my neck and asks “can I call you mama?” (instead of the normal “mommy”). The one who made her mark, in crayon, on the wall and the cupboard and her brand new baby doll — as if she were a toddler — has, since, made my bed without me knowing and sewn me a wee little pillow that she plopped like a cherry on top, one that matched our bedding.
Soon it is her birthday. In keeping with Hagerty tradition, I’ve written her a letter, here, that she’ll read a decade from now. Tonight I write through tears. These letters aren’t just our accolades to them. They are His signposts. They are a word to the sympathetic eye at the grocery store and the mom who’s danced her mind around adoption but can’t get beyond her fear. They are a testimony to the hopeless — the ones whose stories appear to be in shards. They say God has the power to heal.
As I write to her, let these words be like a glass that magnifies Him. He brought her up out of the water, years after she knew the womb.
Hope does not disappoint.
(What if we spend a lifetime in rooms that are “safe”, carved out by fears of what might happen, and miss the beauty of seeing Him tame that wild sea?)
Tonight you drew me a picture of your wedding, all those girls dressed in green, and you in the center and I thought “how will your daddy ever be able to give you away?”
You came like a thunder-clap into our lives — bursting our calm with your zeal — and though your life-motions have since mellowed, your heart has grown wild with love. When you say “Mommy, please climb under the covers with me” as I tuck you in at night, I melt. Hope, your sweet love moves me.
In this year, your fingers have learned to sew and play keys and write words; your feet have learned to releve and your body to turn a cartwheel; and your life has learned to lean. Hope, you’ve learned to cast dark brown eyes all the way up at your daddy and say “catch me.” And that trust, we cherish.
You pressed your sandy hand against mine while we biked the beach and I didn’t want to let it go. You rode fast and invited me in to your spin and I saw the beauty of a little girl who lost fear when she found us safe. You haven’t slowed down, but you’ve found a direction. And your siblings are happy to follow suit.
Your goofy spirit widens the circle around you. Your day-to-day is a party and the invite list just keeps getting longer. Not much can suppress your delight. I want to bottle your laugh for a baby book that reminds me, always, that He gives joy to those on whom He rests. Hope, your life is a joy. You are His joy. And mine. (And Daddy’s :)).
Happy Birthday sweet child. We’re crazy about you.
Last photo compliments of Mandie Joy.