Do you know the Christmas story? I don’t mean the movie with the little boy who wants a Red Ryder BB gun. Or a story about stockings that were hung by the chimney with care. I mean, do you know the actual, historical account of why Christmas is celebrated?
To find out, we can go to a book of the Bible called Luke. Luke was a doctor, then later a disciple or follower, who recorded the life of Jesus. This means that Luke actually wrote down the true events that happened during his lifetime. Well, in order for Luke to write down what Jesus did during his life, something quite logical happened. Jesus was born. He was born to real parents, who had real names. Those names are Joseph and Mary.
And that is the very short version of why we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate the birth of Jesus, the son of God and an actual baby who was born in a very real, albeit obscure town called Bethlehem. Strangely, the story reminds me of my own son’s birth because he was also born in humble circumstances with God’s mighty hand of protection upon him.
He was born in the mountains of a Latin American village. His birth mom was a young girl who had to travel, most likely by foot, helped along by her brother and sister, to give birth to her son in a hospital. In comparison to modern hospitals in the U.S., some may consider it a stable.
In the hospital where my son’s tiny cry was first heard, medical standards are not the same. You won’t find menus or kitchen staff preparing meals. Patients, or family members of patients, have to bring their own food, if they can afford it. It’s unlikely his birth mom could afford it. She was malnourished herself. As a result, Little B was just under 4 pounds when he was born. And in a gesture of overwhelming love, my Little B was left at the hospital. Without going into further detail, there was a very good reason why his birth mom, uncle and aunt couldn’t take care of him. And I am beyond grateful that they made such a brave decision.
In the country where we adopted Little B, you cannot choose who your adoptive son or daughter will be by looking at files or photos or anything. The government-run adoption agency matches adoptive parents with their prospective children. In the biggest test of faith we have ever experienced in our lives, my husband and I prayed and trusted the matching process would not be left up to human wisdom, but up to the wisdom of God, the true matchmaker.
We had been advised by others who had adopted from this particular country that the only certain part about the entire process was that it would not go according to plan. In other words, our lawyer would tell us what is supposed to happen, but rest assured, it would not happen that way. And that turned out to be true.
First of all, our heart’s desire was to adopt an infant. We have two daughters. They were 4 and 7 at the time we began our adoption paperwork. In order to stick to our family’s birth order and introduce some blue to our home, we requested a son under the age of 4. I actually met the director of the government agency in person, and she told us that request would be very difficult. She said we might be able to adopt a 3 year-old, but even that would require a lot of luck. Even so, we prayed fervently that we would be matched with the youngest child possible.
We were also assured that once our paperwork arrived in the country, it would take at least six months before we would receive a call that we had been matched with a child. And that was a best-case scenario. Waiting at least a year was more likely.
So imagine my surprise when I got a call right in the middle of a tennis match only two weeks after our paperwork arrived at its destination. The breaking news was that we had been matched with a 40 day-old baby boy! I needed to fly out by Sunday to get him. That was on a Wednesday night. To borrow a postal term, this was adoption express.
Packing wouldn’t have been too rough, except that I had to pack for a minimum of three months! My family couldn’t fly with me because of the “express factor” that I just mentioned. My oldest daughter’s passport had not arrived yet, and my husband had set travel plans to run soccer camps in the Northwest for the missions organization we work with. So many crazy details! But God worked them out, and I boarded a plane on Sunday, July 22, 2012. When I landed, my friend and driver picked me up, we ate a quick lunch and I bought a stroller, a car seat, a baby bathtub, food and some other supplies.
It’s kind of funny that I can remember the events of that day but I cannot remember any details about that evening. Was I nervous as I pulled the covers over myself that night before meeting my infant son? Scared? Or did I just sense the peace of God that transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds? Probably a mixture, I imagine.
The next day, as was customary, plans changed at least a few times before the highly-anticipated moment of meeting my son arrived. After completing some morning errands, my lawyer, friend/driver and I ate lunch and then picked up a couple from Spain who had just flown in to adopt their daughter.
We waited in the lobby of a small office together, anxious to meet our children. Of course it felt like forever, but the moment finally came. A social worker signaled for my lawyer and me to make our way over to her desk so I could meet my son. I tried so hard not to imagine this moment before it happened. I just didn’t want to have any preconceived notions about how I would feel, or about what my son might look like, or sound like, or about whether or not we would bond right away. I didn’t want to idealize the moment in a way that might lead to disappointment because I had conjured up unrealistic expectations.
Now the moment I tried not to imagine was here. And it was wonderful. My darling little son was teeny, tiny but oh so precious. Just 7 lbs at almost two months-old. He had on a little onesie, and lots of dark, fluffy hair atop his sweet little head.
The director of the orphanage where he had been staying placed him in my arms. And in that moment the thought, “it was all worth it,” washed over me like a warm shower. I plunked down in a chair and Little B curled right up to me. I gave him the bottle I had brought along with me and he chugged it right down. He was so hungry.
For the next 15 minutes or so, I learned about my son. I learned details about his past, what his life had been like in the two, separate orphanages he had been in…was all this really happening? Just two years prior to this moment, I had never even considered adopting. And yet, here I was, in a foreign country, holding my son in my arms.
I remembered Mary’s response to the miraculous events surrounding her own son’s birth. On the one hand, the shepherds were amazed and spread the word about all that had happened, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19 NIV
And that is what I did too. God literally placed a child in my arms in such a miraculous way that all I could do was treasure and ponder the events of the past couple years in my heart.
I’m so grateful that God knows the desires of our hearts and minds even better than we do. I am so thankful that through answers to prayer God showed my husband and me very clearly that this was the plan he had for our family.
There is so much more to this story. Parts have been extremely hard. And parts have been unbelievably amazing. I’ve told some people that I thought when the judge stamped “official” on our documents and our entire family returned home, it would be the end of our adoption journey. But I soon discovered, it was just the beginning…
Laura is Mommy Maleta, a world-traveling mother of three who can also be found on tennis courts, soccer fields, sipping coffee with friends and reading in comfy corners. She explores the world one suitcase at a time on her blog by choosing countries alphabetically. She then spends 4 weeks on each country teaching world geography and culture. You can explore the world with her, and subscribe to get her posts and newsletter, over at www.mommymaleta.com. Follow her on pinterest, facebook, and twitter.