Today 2 year ago at 1 o’clock in the morning, a little boy was born in a hospital in North China.
I imagine his mother had a painful labor, anticipating with sweat and excitement the arrival of their new baby boy. The mother must have held him tight, swaddling him with kisses and gentle caress, bestowing on him the angelic look only a mother can have for her beautiful newborn baby. The tinny missing fingers on his right hand and the extra toe on his left foot did not stop the mother’s gushing love. She must have held him tightly to her chest, smelling his newborn skin all the while knowing that a decision needed to be made. They could be farmers, a dedicated and hard working low income family with dreams of having a man son to plow their fields and take over the family’s business. The one child policy must be a burden to so many citizens to have one healthy boy capable to carry on the family’s name and fortunes. Or perhaps they are city folks with not much hope of a future for their visibly handicapped son. Will their little boy make it through this tough life the way he is? Will he be mocked and ridiculed in life? We know a little bit of their fears because we were asked on different occasions while in China, “What is wrong with him?” These words must have hurt his mother, too. My husband and I received many stares…quiet, long, and intriguing stares, “What is wrong with him?”
After a month of nurture, sleepless nights, and much distress, the parents saw it fit for their little boy to live in a place where there are many children like him, with special needs and big hearts. They heard of the town gated orphanage, a safe place to drop off their baby. At the orphanage gate was built the first ever “safety island” of China, undoubtedly the smallest “island” on the planet. A 2.5 square meters box, this “island” is equipped with a crib and an incubator to protect the baby from insects and mosquitoes, and a fan to air out the scorching heat. The indoor bleak walls are getting torn down by the polluted draft airing in through the door opening and closing. These walls witnessed countless secret goodbyes from devastated parents abandoning their babies, moanings of silenced desperation of pained mothers holding their little ones one last time, and soft monotonous cries of babies yearning for the hold and touch of their forever gone mothers. The windows have posters of smiling toddlers, trees, mushrooms and flowers as if to console the sight of every anguished mother abandoning her child.
The decision must have been heart wrenching to the mother’s soul. She must have fed him one last time as her tears wouldn’t stop falling. What mother will forget her son? How will she be able to sleep at night knowing that her baby boy is abandoned in a house of troubled children? How will she cope with unanswered questions about her son’s future?
They swaddled him in a cloth and wrote him a note on a red piece of cloth to bring him luck. They included his birthday, time of birth and the name they chose for him. They carefully must have laid their sleeping one month old in the island’s crib to then quickly vanish into the quiet, dark, and polluted small streets before anyone could catch a glimpse of their identity and deed.
Today, this little boy has a new name and family. He’s Levi Andrew Martin. He has a mother, a father, and three older sisters. He has grandparents, aunts and uncles and many, many cousins. He has a church family and friends. He is loved. He has a future and an inheritance. He belongs with us. As I cuddle him and kiss his sweet face, my mind rushes to his first mother. I wish she knew what has become of her son. My love for him will never quiet her heart, but the sounds of his bright smiles and giggles just may…if only she could hear them! I wish she knew how sweet and carrying and happy he is. How he loves to dance, clap his hands, and eat goldfish. How he loves to be held and wrap his tinny, silky hands around my neck as tight as he can. How he adores bananas and can’t stand mango. How he throws himself on the floor at the sight of his daddy walking through the door. How he loves the sky and everything moving in it, and how quickly he is learning how to live in America. How his sisters adore him and kiss him to the point of annoying him really. How hundreds of people prayed for him and helped us get him home. He is not alone anymore. He is orphan no more!
Somewhere in a house in the North of China, God’s hand was forming Levi’s frame. God created his inmost being—his character traits, dreams, likes and dislikes, desires and quirkiness. God was knitting Levi together in his Chinese mother’s womb. Psalm 139 attests to that! His eyes, skin, nerve cells, bones, muscles, fingers and toes. And yet, God never missed a loop when he saw it fit for Levi to have less fingers and an extra toe. Levi’s stitch is just as fearful and wonderful as that of King David’s. And David was a handsome king. So handsome that he was despised because of his beauty. But in God’s eyes, Levi’s frame is just as magnificent as David’s because everything that God works is sublime. While some people focus on our son’s disability, my husband and I cling the gospel truth that Levi’s little body has the seal of approval of a loving and sovereign God whose eyes saw both the body and the days of our son even before one came to pass. Our loving God saw Levi in our home long before he was born. The sum of God’s precious thoughts for Levi and our family greatly outnumber the missing digits.
“What is wrong with him” is why he is our son today. We love him and his character, his strengths and his failures. We love his eyes, mouth, hands, extra toe and missing fingers. We love him for him. His physical lacking is our family abundance. So, Happy Birthday, son! We are very blessed you were born today!
Wow u guys r gr8
What an absolutely beautiful testimony to loving others despite obstacles, struggles, or distance. You are a beautiful family and you are as luck to have Levi as he is to have you .. and of course we are all blessed to have God.
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