Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Birthday Post That Almost Was

I swear it was just yesterday that Knox turned four.  And the day before that, Miles was four.  And now my littlest - four!  Time keeps rushing right on past, as usual.

The night before Lakey's big day, the boys and I curled up on her bed to talk about her birthday.  It's something I've been doing with Miles and Knox for the last few years.  I recount the moments from each one's actual day of birth and the days leading up to it.  They laugh as I tell them how hard they were kicking me in the stomach or how tired I was because they were taking all my nutrients for themselves.  We get out their birthday books and I add color commentary to all the photographs.  It's the best time for them.  Kids love to be told stories about things they said and did as babies.

This was the first time I'd done it with Lakey on her birthday.  It's tricky because I don't know anything about her birth story to tell.  I don't know if she was born on a sunny day or a cloudy one.  I don't know if she was born in a hospital or in some one's home or otherwise.  Was she a content baby or did she cry a lot?  Was she born with lots of hair or very little?  Was anyone there to hold her close right away?  I have reports that say she weighed less than four pounds when she was found at the gate of the orphanage on July 11th.  Following a brief medical examination, she was assigned a date of birth.  July 8th.  She was wearing a yellow, cotton suit.

I admit.  If I dwell for too long on the above I get emotional.  The hard truth about adoption is that it begins with loss, and Lakey's birthday reminds me.  A mother lost her child, and that is the single, worst thing I can imagine having to endure.  Maybe she chose to walk away, sure.  Perhaps her government or family pressured her to do it, or maybe she felt she couldn't provide but wanted her baby to have a loving family.  No matter the circumstance, it must have been heart wrenching for her to give up her child. 

Lakey also lost something in those first few days of her life.  She lost every tie to her biological family - people of her own bloodline who at the very least might have offered medical history knowledge or insight into her background and ancestry.  Surely there will come a day when Lakey has questions about what makes her, well her.  I'm not sure how I will be able to help her when that day arrives, but I trust that wisdom will come when it needs to.

Lately, I've been thinking about the importance of knowing about the stock from which I come.  I like knowing that I resemble my dad.  I look like him, I lose things like him, and I zone out like him.  Hey, I have a lot of imperfections and it's comforting to know they come from somewhere (love you Dad - I'm certain I gained a few of your best qualities too).  It's also fun to know that my musical ability (however slight), my sweet tooth (as deep as the Marianas trench), and my attention to task related detail resembles my mom. 

But I can't put my finger on why it matters to me.  I mean, it's not imperative that I am able to relate my traits to anyone else in my family.  I would still go on living the same life God has set before me regardless of whether or not I know that my eyes were like my Mema's (so she used to tell me).  Certainly, it's helpful to know what medical issues I might be predisposed to and what not, but as a friend who had cancer once said (and with no family link to it), "I guess family history starts with someone, right?" 

So then, if I decide that these things don't really matter, it must be that it's important to me simply for the reason that I find comfort in knowing I belong

We all want to belong - I think it's human nature.  Most people try to find a sense of it by joining a country club, or a political party, or a church.  But I'm not talking about some organization that you can easily join or disjoin.  You only find belonging in those groups as long as you are like-minded, or adhere to a specific doctrine, or pay your dues, or attend a membership class or whatever.  It's conditional.  I am talking about belonging, as in, having a permanent position IN something.  I belong IN the human race, not to some political party or country club.  I belong IN the Body of Christ, not to a religious organization.  I belong IN my family, not because our eyes are all brown or because we all eat cottage cheese under our beans (truth).  I belong here simply because that is where God, the Placer, has placed me.

And that is the truth which leads me out of the initial sadness I feel when I reflect on Lakey's birthday and into the joy and complete celebration of this sweet girl.  I hope it is something that she will hold true in her heart one day too.  Though there is grief on one side of the coin, the other side can be joy because the Placer has grafted her into this family.  Therefore, she belongs here as much as any of the rest of us.

**I meant for this to be an entry to document Lakey's fourth birthday - what she's doing now, what she likes, doesn't like, etc.  Clearly, I got lost in thought.  Another trait I can blame thank my dad for.

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