Today is your 7th birthday. 7 already! It's hard to believe. The years have just flown by--it hardly seems possible that it's been over 5 years since I've seen you or held you. You know, your picture is still front and center in our family room, and we think of you often.
I remember the first time I saw you. You were tiny--just over 22 months, but so little I would have guessed only 13 or 14 months. You and I had an instant attachment, almost love at first sight. Later, the director of your orphanage would tell me that once in a while she saw things that were just "so right it hurts" and she felt that way about you and me. I did too. Almost immediately, you were in my arms, snuggled up, and totally at rest. She'd not often seen you that way, and apparently you NEVER sought out strangers. For the time I was there, we were inseparable. I fed you, bathed you, changed you, and rocked you to sleep. We played together and rocked together. As a matter of fact, you wouldn't even leave my side when I had other things to do, and you wanted nothing to do with the others on my team when we were working on some fun activities. The day I had to leave was agony--you somehow knew I wouldn't be back, and you had to be forcibly removed from my arms. Your tears mixed with mine, and your little fingers gripped my back so tightly that I had scratch marks where you had to be peeled away. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, leaving you that day. But I promised that I would do everything in my power to come back to you.
I want you to know that I tried. We all did. As quickly as we could, we started the paperwork to bring you home. But we ran into snags. Then, eventually, the door was closed forever. It hurt. Oh, how it hurt! Losing you was the most painful thing I've ever had happen. You were more that just a dream--you had a smile, a face, a personality, a hug. The pain is still there. Tempered, for sure, but still present. You also need to know that while we couldn't change the world for you, you changed the world for many.
Because of you, a little boy from China now has a family. Ryan came to our family in late 2005. Often, before we knew who he was going to be, I wondered what his connection to you would be. And you know what? You and Ryan share a special day! Today has meaning in Ryan's story...and will always remind me of you, always tie the two of you together. Later, you would change the world for a second little boy from China, as Logan joined us last spring. Ryan needed a playmate! :) Besides those two little boys, your story has changed the minds and hearts of men and women across the Pacific Northwest. There are many families with a new child in their lives because of what we learned through you. So while my heart aches that you are not here, I am grateful every day to God for sharing you with us, however briefly.
My heart longs to know that you are safe and well, growing up healthy and loved. But I have no way to know. I can only trust that God, in His infinite wisdom, put you in a place were you would be loved and protected, much as Ryan and Logan now have that safe place. Please know that wherever you go, whatever you do, there is a family out there that loves you tremendously. We will continue to think about you and pray for you.
Happy 7th birthday. And love always...