For years and years and a bunch more years after that, my mom has been talking about China.
She went on a couple missions trips to China, two separate trips, a few years apart. They changed her life, as those things have the tendency to do. I mean, after I visited South Africa for the first time and got back to San Diego, I decided to quit my security, my promotion, my cushy, travel-the-world job and go back to South Africa to live and work for a ministry for a year. I get it. God really gets cooking when He gets your attention, especially on missions trips.
So, China. For years, and still to this day, somebody will be talking about something LOOSELY related to China or Asia or Australia, for that matter, and my sweet, sweet, changed-by-Jesus-in-China mom will say…
“Oh, well, when I was in China…”
I used to sort of roll my eyes and give her this smirky smile like, “I love you, but oh boy, here we go again.”
She even, for all these years, has had a framed photo of a baby girl she met and loved at an orphanage in China, on a shelf, in the mix of all the other photos of her family and friends. I’ve picked up that photo a hundred times over the years and thought to myself, “Oh sweet girl, I’m sure my mama just loved the heck out of you.”
China, since she went, has always had a place in her heart.
Then, October 1, 2015 rolls around. Jesse and I are on a plane to San Francisco to shoot a destination wedding. A few months earlier I blurted out to two of my girl friends, a day before my birthday, “I think we’re supposed to adopt a baby.” Jesse was away at Whitewater (a rafting trip with the junior high from our church…also known as his first love) and the Holy Spirit was doing some hardcore convicting while he was away. Anyway, that was the first time I admitted that out loud, to anyone. And the days between that night before my 33rd birthday and our October trip up north had me doing lots of thinking, lots of research, but for some reason I still wasn’t ready.
But, as always, travel does something to me. Being stuck in the air, with no laundry to do or clients to coach, I started making a list of pros and cons: Latin America vs. China. The Morquecho Adoption Olympic Games.
Eventually, about a month later, Latin America came out on top. We landed on Nicaragua. Really, China didn’t even feel like a contender, because every country has its rules, and China says both adopting parents have to be 30 years old. Jesse had just turned 29 and who wants to wait? Not me.
So, on that plane ride, I tidied up my pros and cons. And, just a couple hours later, I blurted my convictions to Jesse, as we drove north in a rental car, windows down and wind in my hair. (More on all that HERE.)
The second I confessed my readiness (good God, FINALLY!!!) to adopt, I high-tailed it into action. Again, that waiting thing…
And so, we pursued Nicaragua. We finished the home study. Had psych evals and all (wasn’t that a treat to find out that “Mr. Morquecho is calm and easy going. Mrs. Morquecho seems more anxious about the situation.” Seriously, so much fun). The dossier was almost complete. We were just waiting to get some papers back from the government, then we’d be able to start the next part…
Almost 9 months into the process, we got an email from our agency saying Nicaragua was no longer accepting dossiers for kids under 6 years old.
For a month, Jesse and I went back to the drawing board. A new match arose: Domestic vs. China (and possibly India, but not really). There was quite a back and forth. Domestic certainly has some strong kickers. We could be matched with a younger child. Point. We might be chosen sooner by a birth parent. (Less waiting!) Point. But as we made the debates and lists and tallied the score and it seemed like it would make sense for us to go one way, our hearts were telling us to do something else.
Jesse was just two months from turning 30. No longer a problem.
Oh, and you know, that dream I had about the little girl with straight, dark bangs? The dream that got me thinking about China in the first place? Well, maybe that would come true. Maybe that was our answer all along. (More on all that coming soon.)
At my mom’s house, in her guest bedroom there’s this beautiful old drafting table with a million tiny drawers. That’s where she stashes all of her cards. Every word that ever meant anything to her. Every photo and memento from her travels to Israel when she was a hippie. To China when she first fell in love with Jesus. On the left side of the drafting table, about two thirds of the way down, inside you’ll find a couple of paper fans, decorated with dainty florals and foil, and a handful of pictures of people she met years ago that changed her life.
On top, at the surface, there’s a row of framed photos. Of her family. And that little girl she once met and loved at an orphanage in China.
The other day, when I was there, I picked up that photo of a girl I’ve never met and felt this strange, strange connectedness. Like Jesus had wrapped our story into one. My mom’s never-ending praise of her time in a country I’ve never been to. A little orphan girl in a frame, who must be a teenager by now. A vivid dream I had years ago, I still can’t seem to shake. A choice I was afraid to make that now makes all the sense in the world.
“Oh sweet girl, I know my mama is just going to love the heck out of you.” And she’s going to have so many stories to tell you, of where you were born! Your roots.
My mom still references her time in China when someone mentions rice (or noodles or, I swear, even a burger can get her to bring up China), but now I don’t roll my eyes and my smirky smile isn’t aimed at her, but at Him.