It's been a while since I've posted a blog entry here. It is still an understatement for me to write that the last 2 months have been an intense blur of emotions, activities, successes, challenges, adjustments, struggles, triumphs, frustrations, and much more. However, the last few days, I've been reflecting on our family and how things have changed for all of us. It would be easy for me to focus on how our changes have impacted me, Amy, and Gracie, but I really want to focus on another perspective for this post.
The last couple of days, we have had a few "bumps in the road" with Gemma Lu, mostly at preschool, but around the house occasionally too. Now before you respond or react, please know that we are doing OK and we are thankful and feeling incredibly blessed with all that is happening in our family. Our two little blessings are incredible but our 2 month old journey as a forever family of 4 has not been without some challenges. As we pray and work through them as a family, I have been awestruck with just how amazing our little Gemma Lu has been through these past couple of months. Put yourself in Gemma's shoes and just imagine the following:
- First of all, the only life you have known is an orphanage with lots of kids of all ages, some of them with significant special needs. You've had no mommy or daddy to give you the special love and care that you so badly desire. Sure your nannies and caregivers are wonderful but there is no substitute for a loving family. You sleep with 10-20 other children in a crowded, noisy, hot room.
- Next, you are taken from the only thing you know as "home" and given to complete strangers who look nothing like you and who don't speak your language. You travel to a hotel where you remain very frightened, not knowing what is going on. Then, these two strangers pack up your limited things and bring you back and say goodbye. As if things weren't' confusing enough, now you are brought back to your orphanage, the only "family" you have ever known. Life is at least "normal" again.
- A few months later, you are receiving pictures and presents from another strange couple and then like a bad dream, you are taken to a strange office again and handed over to these strangers. They don't speak your language, and they too are scared. The next few weeks are still scary, but you are becoming comfortable with your new family. It helps that you have a "Jie Jie" (older sister) and some really cool new toys to play with.
- Next you take a long train ride, followed by a very scary taxi ride to another building with a room to sleep in. You are then awakened very early and board an airplane (for the first time) and then spend the next 5 and 12 hours respectively sitting in one seat with people you hardly know.
- You are next greeted by a large group of people who seem excited to see you but you are still terrified. You spend 3 days in another strange building with lots of bedrooms in it and more people you don't know. Soon after that you are buckled in a seat belt and then travel 7+ hours in a car, still not understanding anything that you hear or see.
- The next few weeks are a mix of new experiences, people, foods, and lifestyle, but you are really starting to love your new family. Next you are introduced to new school classmates and teachers. Again, none of them speak your language or can understand what you are saying.
Imagine all of these things happening to you. Imagine how hard it would be. Now try to imagine doing all of this at 4 years old. I wasn't sure how to frame this blog post or how to put it in a context that would illustrate just how this journey has progressed. But it was sure a Grace filled eye opener for Amy and me when we were dealing with and working through some challenges with little Gemma this week. Stop and consider all that this little girl has been through and we were instantly amazed at how incredible she is has done, and is doing every single day. Consider that even a 4 year old that can speak and understand English and has known one set of parents and siblings will most certainly have moments of disobedience, frustration, anger, and selfishness, and it is all the more amazing how Gemma Lu has progressed.
We have ups and downs just like every family. But as we start to become frustrated, tired, or even angry, we simply stop and think about everything Gemma has been through! It is so very amazing to witness how well she is doing. Once we are reminded of that perspective, it is hard not to feel even more blessed for all that we have. I cannot express adequately how much we feel God's love and Grace on us every day. I can't provide you with tangible proof; I can only tell you it is real.
Maybe I should change the title of this post to "Walk a few thousand miles in her shoes...."