Sunday, January 25, 2009


Joeliana, here in Liberia right after Steve had received her.

I remember Steve sending this picture to me, thousands of miles across the world, after Joeliana was with him. "She looks so sad", I thought. It was so hard to not be there, to start "mothering" her. We knew at this point that she was also very sick. It is very unlikely that she would have survived much longer. But, God has a plan, for each of us!

Poor little baby; how confusing it must have been when her family took her to the orphanage and left without her. Later, when I was in Liberia to bring home Aiden, her biological brother, how scary it must have been when we picked her up at the orphanage to take her with us to visit the "displaced persons" camp (refugee camp), where her family was. I met her mom, uncle (the "village" chief), the granddaddy, and cousins, aunts, and others. They had all been placed in the refugee camp when they had fled from their village during the war. The Uncle explained that the birthmother and her extended family had no way to care for the chidlren. The birthmother was very young (19 - 20 may be) and was trying to go to school. I loved meeting the children's family and wanted to assure them that we already loved these children and were so thankful to be able to parent them. The uncle asked me if they would go to school and would we tell them about their Liberian family..."yes, yes, you are so precious and we will tell their and your story".

I cried as we drove away in the car. One of the ladies with the orphanage was holding Aiden so that I could spend these few precious moments holding and loving on Joeliana before I had to leave her at the orphanage until we could come back for her. As we were leaving, with hundreds of children and adults milling around the car, the birth mother was right there at the front of the car. She had not looked at me much when we visited them. Now, she did not take her eyes off me; and I would not take my eyes off her. We just looked at each other, reaching out to each ones' mother heart...tears started running down my face as she looked at longer refugee to rich white woman, no longer black to white, no longer African to American, no longer was the uncle/village chief between us, mediating for the family; we were mother to mother..."love my children"..."I will love them"; "thank you for taking my children as your own"..."thank you for letting me parent your children"; "I'm praying for them"...."I'm praying for you." I lifted my hand to her as we drove away...she didn't look at her children...she looked at me and lifted her hand; a rare moment had been given to her and me...mother to mother, we understood!

As we drove away, I held Joeliana, tummy to tummy, and shared my fruit flavored drink with her. I stroked her hair and told her that I loved her and we were coming back for her. And I cried and she screamed when got back to the orphanage and I had to pry her from me and give her to the nannies and leave her.

I want to remember...when we work on attachment issues, or just normal 3 year old behaviour and naughtiness, I want to remember....I have been given a gift...

1 comment:

  1. Shonni, I want to let you know that I was really touched by this... it reached a place in this world that I wasn't really aware of, until now, really opened my eyes. Thank you for sharing a truly blessed event... a place where I don't think words can usually express, but you expressed so well with your heart. You should write a book girl... you really should.


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