I should be sleeping, but I have to write. I have to preserve forever this night when for a brief moment the window of Evangeline’s past opened up, and allowed me a glimpse of her life before me.
I love her so much it hurts.
As I write this, tears are streaming down my face for the years she wasn’t here, for the years I couldn’t hold her, for the years she cried alone.
Tonight when I took off her braces, I rubbed her tiny feet and told her how beautiful and straight they looked in her pretty pink braces.
She scrunched up her pretty face and said, “I want my big toe.”
“I know you do, Evangeline. But your big toe was very sick, and if they hadn’t taken it off, the sickness would have gone up your leg, and you would have lost your leg too.” It hurt to say the words, but I needed her to know that there really was no choice.
My words took her to another place and time, a time far away in an orphanage where a little boy lost his leg. She told me the story.
Then she said, “Mommy, in Ch*na, people punch babies.”
Her face was pained as if the memory hurt too much to recall.
My words failed me, and I said, “They do?”
“Yes.” And then in her broken English she described a time when someone threw a baby into the bed by its leg.
I couldn’t hold back the tears.
Her face was sad, and I knew there was more. “Evangeline, did they hurt you too?”
She shook her head yes.
But I was to hear no more about that tonight.
She went on to tell me about an orphanage in Shaanxi that she was in before she was moved to Baoji when she was eleven or twelve. It was a horrible orphanage. The big kids were mean. They didn’t have washing machines. She had to wash her own clothes by hand in freezing water in the winter. It was cold. Her nanny made her wash her clothes too. Her hands hurt so badly from the cold.
Then she said, “Mommy, Dang Mian Fang is not my real name. They gave me a new one when I came. I wasn’t a baby.”
I held my breath and prayed she remembered her real name, but she said she didn’t.
It is there, deep inside her. I know it is. Perhaps someday she will remember.
Tonight I am grieving the years lost.
I don’t know how to describe the hurt of knowing my precious daughter was hurting, and I couldn’t help her.
Fourteen years ago when our oldest three children were one, two, and three and a half, I had two newborns in China, but I didn’t know.
I didn’t know.
They needed me, and I didn’t know.
But God knew.
He brought them home to me in His perfect timing. He lived their pasts with them. He carried them until He placed them in my arms, and He carries them still.
He will heal their hearts.
But there are so many more children who are waiting, so many who are hurting and longing to be loved.
They are afraid.
Their hands are cold.
They are crying.
Jesus is catching their tears in a bottle.
But where is His body?
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matt. 19:14
Jesus laid down His life for such as these. Are we not called to do the same?