Preston Party of Six

Preston Party of Six

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Time to Celebrate, A Time to Grieve

Birthdays.  When we’re children, we can’t wait to celebrate with family, friends, cake, balloons, and presents.  But as we age, we often dread our birthday since it signifies another year of getting older.  Yet one thing I’ve realized fresh and anew throughout our adoption journey is how special EVERY birthday is because EVERY life matters.

I get emotional at each of my children’s birthday parties and especially when I put them to bed at night, reflecting on how fast they are growing up and how much I love them.  And I felt no different with Jenna this past weekend when she spent her first birthday with her forever family as she turned three years old.
Six months ago, I took Nathan, Shelby and Andrew to get cupcakes in Jenna’s honor to celebrate her turning 2 ½ since we couldn’t be with her.  Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in the orphanage in Heyuan City, China, Jenna was celebrating with her friends and nannies with a birthday cake we sent her through a care package service.  Seeing pictures of her eating cake brought me to tears as I couldn’t wait to have her home for her third birthday. 

We were told that Jenna was born on February 1, 2011, which was close to the time of Chinese New Year.  And every year, Jenna’s special day will fall close to this festive Chinese holiday.  So on Friday, January 31st, the start of Chinese New Year 2014, I fixed a Chinese dinner, decorated the dining room, and the girls and I wore our Chinese dresses to celebrate!

On Saturday, February 1st, Jenna woke to balloons and streamers hanging in her honor as she came downstairs.  She was all smiles...until one of her balloons popped! 

Nathan and Shelby had Upward basketball/cheerleading games, so after watching them in action, we all loaded into the van and drove an hour to a Chinese restaurant in Atlanta to join LOTS of other adoptive families to eat, fellowship, and celebrate Chinese New Year.  It was very special being surrounded by so many other families with the same heart for orphans.  And it was VERY moving to be surrounded by so many beautiful children that God placed into forever families (Psalm 68:6).


Once home from this special dinner event, it was finally time for presents and cake.  Jenna had fun opening presents from us as well as from her Mammy and Pappy who were able to come join us for this special weekend.  And after making Jenna’s ladybug cake, it brought me so much joy seeing her face light up when she saw it.


After such a busy day, Jenna was super tired and ready for bed.  I always enjoy our “bedtime routine” of reading a book, praying, and singing “Jesus Loves Me,” but the night of her birthday was extra special for me. 
As I held Jenna in my arms singing to her, I didn’t want to let her go.  I cherished the feel of her little hands wrapped around my neck and thanked God for her life.  And as I closed her door that night, my heart was full of thanksgiving for a wonderful day of celebrating Jenna’s life. 
But my heart was also full of sadness.
You see, throughout all of these celebrations, my heart and mind were thinking of my mom and Jenna’s birthmother.

I struggled this weekend with missing my mom A LOT since she couldn't be here to celebrate Jenna's birthday.  She was always the best at making my siblings and I feel so special on our birthdays as children and even as adults.  I know she would've loved to see Jenna smile at the sight of her cake and watch her tear open her presents.  But most of all, I know my mom would have been moved to tears at the fact that Jenna's life has been changed forever by the Lord since she now has a family who wants to make her feel cherished on her special day and EVERY day.  

And throughout the weekend I thought a lot about Jenna's birthmother.
I can’t help but wonder if she’s somewhere in China thinking of her daughter on her third birthday. 
I can’t help but want to thank her for choosing to give her precious baby girl life. 
I can’t help but think of the heartache she was feeling when she realized her baby girl was sick when she gave birth.
I can’t help but wonder where she found the courage to leave her sick baby girl on the side of a busy road one week later.
And I can’t help but want to show her birthmother what an amazing, beautiful little girl she is three years later.
Most adoption stories are a mix of joy, thanksgiving, heartache, and grief.  On Jenna's birthday, I experienced all of these emotions big time and expect to feel these similar feelings throughout my life as her mom.   
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of life and life abundant in You.  Thank you for Jenna's precious life and bringing her into the life of our family.  I pray that wherever her birthmother is that she somehow knows in her heart that her baby girl is alive and deeply loved.  Thank you for choosing me to be her mother.  And thank you for the amazing mom you gave me.  I miss her so much, God, but I am thankful she is with You and completely healed.  Please give her a big hug from me.  AMEN.

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