May 23, 2015

China: Those babies

As I was getting ready to leave on this trip, people asked me over and over “are you excited to go see China?  What will you get to do?  Will you see the Great Wall?” Confession time…I could have gone to China and done nothing but play with those sweet babies and been perfectly perfect happy.  They are the reason I wanted to go to China.  They are the reason I actually ended up getting on that plane headed to the other side of the world.  I’ve never wanted to go to China to “see China".  All those other things were great.  They really were.  The Great Wall really is inspiring and amazing.  But it doesn’t hold a candle to the sweet little people I met.  

I never wanted to go to China as a tourist. I didn’t want to go and just see the place itself.  It would have felt wrong on every level.  Dishonest.  I couldn’t do a cruise down the Yangtze and just forget that there were little ones just past those shores.  It wasn’t an option for me at all.  When Meredith asked me to come and visit, and not only visit, but come meet her babies, I jumped at the chance and pooled my all my spare change and bought that ticket.  This was my time to go.  This was what I had been waiting for.  

Before I arrived in China, Meredith asked me what I wanted to see while I was in Beijing, my honest reply was “Molly, Shalom, Benjamin, Ruby, Josie, Baby Kate, etc.”  One hundred percent truth.  The first full day I was there, we walked over to the babies home and inside I was secretly nervous.  This was a moment I had dreamed of since I was about 5 years old.  Not these kids in this particular home, but the whole idea of coming face to face with the children I have sponsored and prayed for and dreamed about for years upon years.  So, walking in that door and being greeted by all those little faces…well, I was instantly peeling off my shoes and sitting on that mat watching them in wonder.  They were living breathing children with precious faces and spunky personalities.  They weren’t just pictures on my refrigerator or monthly reports in my inbox.  

Truthfully, I didn’t think the kids would want anything to do with me.  And I was ready to accept this.  Tiny 0-2 year olds don’t necessarily warm to strangers.  Totally get that.  And I wasn’t about to force my way into their lives and into their comfort zones.  So I sat back and watched.  I saw them run/crawl/scoot toward Meredith as soon as they saw her smiling face.  I saw them pile in her lap and giggle.  I watched the nannies interact with the kids.  I sat beside baby bouncy seats and smiled at the tinies.  It was a wonder to behold.

And then Baby Kate was plopped swiftly into my lap.  Probably by Meredith.  And there I sat in complete and utter bliss, trying way too hard to make this tiny miracle bundle smile.  I just stared at her precious face and couldn’t look away.  
This is the best part of being at Morning Star Foster Home.  Having a nanny hand you a tiny and then go off to attend to other matters.  Your only job is to snuggle them and love them and keep them content.  Challenge accepted.  Most heartily.  
It happened over and over and over again.  I would lifted my arms up to snag another babe being handed over to me, bubbling with joy along with gulping back tears.  Every time I couldn’t believe I was there.  That this was happening.  That I was the person that got to hold them.  

Then the older kids started to warm up to me by that first afternoon.  Meredith was so kind to introduce them to me and show them that I was safe.  Molly, Shalom, Josie and Ruby all smiled at me and I was a goner.  I would do anything to make them laugh.  They are so precious.  Each day, they would feel a little more comfortable around me, which made leaving at the end of my time there pretty much excruciating.  Watching their faces go around the corner for the last time.  I still can’t.  Nope.  It’s too hard to think about.  Like a giant hole in my heart.   

Meredith asked me if there any of the kids that I couldn’t wait to actually see in person.  It was hard to think of them that way because I couldn’t wait to meet all of them for their own special reasons.  But Molly, little Molly.  I was smitten with her.  Her photos were always the ones that I would stare at the longest.  Her smile was the best thing I had ever seen.  
She can be tough, Meredith warned me.  I knew that my chances of even getting near Molly or holding her were pretty slim.  And again, that’s okay.  These are little people who have fears and lives that I don’t have any right to.  So I was cautious with her.  I let her lead.  I let her be the one to come to me and initiate anything.  Thankfully, she was kind enough to let me get glimpses of her sweet spirit a few times.  She let me take photos and videos of her.  She sat on my lap on the floor and scrambled around.  She laughed. Oh, that laugh.  It’s pure magic, I’m telling you.  And to see that smile in person…I can’t even take it.  She would use me as her crutch to stand up and practice walking.  Of course, sweet girl.  Anything you need.  I was smitten.  I couldn’t get enough.  She was the last one I saw disappear around the corner when I left that last day.  Her little face looking at me after she had been crying when she thought she had been left behind.  Her big eyes and perfect cheeks.  My freaking heart was about to burst and I still can’t think about that moment without tearing up.  Little Molly.  I wanted to stick her in my carryon and never look back.  

Oh, you sweet little babes. I miss you fiercely and am forever grateful that I got the chance to meet you.