Two years ago today . . .
Alison, Laura, and I are on the fourth floor of a hotel in the city of Nanchang, China. It’s rated five-star (in my opinion, that’s awfully generous). Walking past a large conference room, we glance through the open doors. There’s some sort of business meeting taking place. Someone is providing statistical analysis in Mandarin—boring in any language. We make our way to the end of the long corridor, where there’s a small conference room. As we enter, we see nine care-workers holding nine babies—some are sleeping, some are playing, some are crying, some are screaming (the babies, that is). They’re all dressed in matching pink sleepers with name tags affixed. We know who we’re looking for—we’ve been staring at her picture for the past two months.
It came unexpectedly. On July 7, 2011, I was sitting at my office desk at GCC, preparing Sunday’s sermon. I checked email, and immediately noticed a message from our adoption agency. Based on the projections, we weren’t expecting to hear anything for at least three or four months. Yet the message was clear: “Great news! Please call immediately!” I called immediately. “Congratulations! You have a daughter.” More words followed . . . something about size, weight, location, and so on. But I was still processing “Congratulations! You have a daughter.” The next phrase that registered was a question: “Would you like me to email some pictures?” I mumbled something that was obviously understood because within seconds I was staring at the face of my daughter on my computer screen. Within seconds I was on the phone with Alison. Within minutes, she was in my office, staring at the same pictures. Within hours, we were on a plane from Dallas to Toronto, in order to meet with our adoption practitioner. Within days, we were signing all the necessary paperwork. After five years and nine months, it had finally happened.
On September 16, 2011, we were on a plane to Beijing. The next day, we were on a plane to Nanchang. We’ve traveled thousands of miles. We haven’t slept properly in over 48 hours. As you can imagine, we’re exhausted and overwhelmed. We’ve had barely enough time to check into our hotel room, purchase some baby formula, and find the conference room. And now, here we are. As we enter the room, our eyes begin to move at lightning speed from face-to-face. Alison is the first to spot her. Unaware of the proper protocol (and, to be honest, not particularly interested), she approaches with arms outstretched. The man holding our daughter has a kind face and gentle demeanor. Without hesitation, he willingly hands over his precious cargo. And there she is in Alison’s arms.
While Alison gushes and Laura videotapes, my mind moves like a locomotive. It traverses 20 years of marriage, it replays the day Laura was born, it remembers past frustrations and disappointments, it surveys almost six years of waiting—the delay and uncertainty. Finally, it slows and settles, focusing on a wonderful truth from God’s Word: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).