Today marks two years since this unbelievable day.  The day in which we, at long last, met our sweet Elizabeth will forever be etched in my mind.  The anticipation.  The sounds.  The muggy Kinshasa air.

As the months and the years pass, I reflect on this day often.  And the more I come to know our daughter, her story, and the beautiful mess that is adoption, the more weight this day carries in my mind.  There is so much I wish I could have communicated to Elizabeth that day.  Like this.  This is what I would have said…



Sweet girl,

We love you.  Oh man do we love you.  We don’t love you for some dream fulfilled in our lives or because you somehow make us whole or because of any of your own merits.  No, baby girl, we love you because you are ours.  You’re our daughter.  And while you have no idea what this means right now, let me just give it to you straight.  I know we may have just met each other, but our love for you?  It’s fierce.  And it’s forever.  Nothing can change that.

That said, we are so sorry.  I know this day is beyond scary and overwhelming for you, and our exuberance in finally meeting you, holding you, kissing your sweet face stands in sharp contrast to what you’re feeling.  We’re disrupting the entire world you’ve known for so long, and your little heart has already had to cope with more than I can fathom.  Because, sweetheart, I don’t care what anyone tries to say, this is not the way things were meant to be.  In a perfect world, first moms and dads would be able to raise their babies.  Poverty, disease, war, and death in childbirth would be no more.

But this world we live in?  It’s broken.

You didn’t “grow in our hearts” as some will say.  No, Elizabeth, God grew you and developed you in your Congo mama’s belly.  Your mama who felt your every move and kick and who delivered you into this beautiful, messy world.  And while I love you madly and am over-the-moon-happy to call you “daughter”, I am well aware that I can never replace her.  And that’s okay.  I know there will surely come a day in which you’ll question and mourn her absence, and, darling, I’m so sorry.  My promise to you is that we’ll be there for you.  With you.  In whatever you’re feeling.  And your first family?  They will never be forgotten.  Ever.

Adoption inherently begins with tragedy and loss.  Loss that no child- no family- should ever have to endure.  But our God specializes in redemption.  And we are so unbelievably grateful to be part of that story.  Humbled that you call us mommy and daddy.  We are so undeserving.

Yes, my girl, it’s true.  It won’t take long for you to realize that we’re not perfect  We’re not going to get this all right.  We’ll fumble at this whole adoption and race and general parenting thing.  There’s this thing we talk about a lot in our house, though.  It’s called grace.  Also, love.  We have a lot of that, too.

You know, some people subscribe to the flawed notion that kids who have been adopted are damaged goods, just lucky to be saved.  To be rescued by their adoptive families.  Don’t listen to them.  You see, we’re all broken, and there’s only one Rescuer.  You’re precious and resilient and strong.  Baby girl, you must understand that we- these two imperfect people you call mommy and daddy- we are the lucky ones.

Elizabeth, you are loved.  Forever.

7 Comments on what I would have said…

  1. Catherine, You are in our thoughts and prayers often.Today when I read your remarks I couldn’t believe your ability in expressing yourself……..I thought I’ll send this to a leading Christian bookseller………you are a younger Beth Moore! We love you and your family and everyday We look to your blog for the words you share so beautifully…..Get Well……better yet rest in the Lord Grandma and Paw Paw

  2. Catherine, You are in our thoughts and prayers often. Today, when I read your remarks, I couldn’t believe your ability in expressing yourself…….I thought, I’ll send this to a leading Christian bookseller……you are a younger Beth Moore! We love you and your family and everyday, we look to your blog for the words you share so beautifully…..Get well……better yet, rest in the Lord. Grandma and Paw Paw

  3. Wow, this is so beautifully written and true to the core. I pray I can convey these same words and ideas to our soon to be daughter in the way that you have. Thanks, Catherine!

  4. Catherine – Thank you for sharing this beautiful post. What an amazing picture of God’s grace in your life. Aubrey and I praise the Lord for the work he is doing in and through your family for his glory.

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