the bitter and the sweet

Zoe's our daughter. I don't think of her as a former orphan, though she is. We've settled into life with her, and it feels like it's been far more than eight weeks since we brought her home.


Today has been bittersweet. Precious, but only made so by the difficult realities of adoption.

First, a bittersweet and wonderful word...

She's been saying it occasionally, but we haven't been sure if it had meaning or not. Today, she was fussing on the floor with Jocelyn, and I scooped her up from behind. When she saw who it was who had her, our eyes locked and her mostly gummy grin let out a beautiful "Mama." 

This moment with each of my other two was just sweet. No bitter in sight. 

But the reality is that adoption only exists due to brokenness, be it poverty or death or sin or some other circumstance that won't exist in heaven and didn't exist in the Garden of Eden. In the absence of brokenness, Zoe wouldn't be ours. She would be saying "mama" to the one who gave birth to her. 

The sweetness, though, is in redemption. Just as God's redemption of me transformed me from a sinner to His child, the beauty of redemption in earthly adoption takes an orphan and makes her a loved daughter. 

A daughter whose Mama's heart fills with joy when she uses her first word to call me by name.

Second, a bittersweet and wonderful moment...
Lee went on a week-long business trip, returning today. Zoe has been a little cranky all week.

I thought it was teething, but she hasn't acted this way with other teeth. It could be that she has been carted around more, with school registration and carpools and a developmental evaluation. It could have been any of those realities. But I realized today that she might not know that Daddy - her favorite parent by far, which I love - was coming back.

With Jocelyn and Robbie, I could say, "We've always come back." And "Mommy and Daddy have always been here for you." And "Do you have any reason to doubt us?"

For Zoe, we haven't always been there. She's learning to trust us. It's different.

For Zoe, I don't think she knew that Daddy was coming back. She is more tentative with him this evening than she has been since our first days in Taiwan. In time, she'll trust him again, but we're not quite sure she does right now.

That's the bitter.

The sweet? It's this.