So, when an assignement came home asking for baby pictures my stomach did a flip-flop. Oh I wanted to protect her from what might be coming. I asked her what picture she wanted and she said, "The youngest Mama!"...but we don't have baby-baby pictures, only her referral pictures. She has those framed by her bed and when I reminded her that those were the youngest she went and grabbed them. She then lined them up on the table and asked, "Why do I look so scared Mama?"
Oh my heart, how I wished I had more or better answers! Oh how I began to pray and pray as I said, "well, it might be the first time you had seen a camera" all the while thinking of the hundreds of pictures we took of even Parker's very first day. Then she said, "Why am I sitting in that wierd chair in the street?" "Who took that pictures anyways?" "Why are there a bunch of grapes in my lap?" "Where were you Mama?" it all just bubbled out until the final question, "Where was my birthmom?"
I took a deep breathe and began to explain that we had not met yet, that she was in foster care, that some chairs look different in China, that she had on split pants so they put plastic grapes in her lap...and that her birthmom was not with her while she was in foster care.
Then she was distracted as neighbors came in to play and I turned my back to let my tears fall unseen. Oh how I would give anything to have answers, to take away the pain, to have a book full of pictures starting from the very day she was born. Oh how I wish I could change the path that she must walk and that finding a baby picture for a school project could just be a simple and fun thing for her....but that is not our story, it is not her story. Hers is a story that is painful and beautiful all in it's own right and it is a story that she needs to reach deep into sometimes and I get the honor of walking alongside her.
So one of the things that we have let Ravenna lead in is kissing. I know that may sounds very strange but for some reason she has never been comfortable with kissing us on the lips. It has never happened actually. She has never initiated giving Doug or I a kiss on the lips and usually will turn her head so that we get her cheek. She goes as far as covering up my mouth and then kissing my cheek. So, we have let that roll and I have just sat back and prayed. Yes, I have prayed that the Lord would break down whatever walls are there that prevent her from feeling safe enough, that the Lord would re-train the pathways of her brain where the 'fight or flight' response has taken up camp where her needs were not met as an infant....and now I have to tell you the rest of the story!
I asked if I could be in the classroom today for the baby picture unveiling, just as moral support for Ravenna. I was hoping it would just be a fun activity but also wanted to be there in case it brought up anything funky for Ravenna. So there we were, baby pictures on the wall, kids guessing, kids drawing pictures of their families, all having so much fun...Ravenna included. As I stood there watching her color, kids whirling all around, she looked up at me very intentionally. She then came close and in front of her class put a hand on each of my cheeks and pulled me close to give me a tender little kiss right on my lips. She then pulled back, eyes sparkling and whispered, "It's the first one ever Mama..." and all I could do was pull her into my arms and whisper through my tears, "That was the best gift ever!"
God heals, He redeems...he can revive and change even the tiniest things in our lives...oh how He cares for us!
“I will redeem the years the locusts have eaten"