It’s the middle of the summer and it is blazing hot in China, too. In fact, when we last traveled there three years ago, the humidity made our clothes hug the frames of our bodies and soak up our skin. The puffing of the dumpling-air on the streets mingled with the vibrant noise of hard-working, Mandarin souls. The gazes of the locals we attracted by our presence brought both silence, examination, and bursts of melodic exclamations. We were in the heart of China and we were noticed.
But for me, the air and the language only intensified the imaginative search of Levi’s parents. I’d wonder if perhaps the stern-faced mother riding a scooter with her baby girl, hands wrapped around her small hips, seated on a meager seat in the back, with no protection whatsoever, would have been his mother. Or, maybe the industrious young man swiping the asphalt barefoot in wrinkled cotton shorts, lose undershirt, and dirty hands may be his father. A family of three would quietly cross the street, dodging cars and bicycles, carrying their son in their strong and tired arms. Maybe they are his relatives. My mind would imagine all kind of scenarios in an attempt to maybe connect some urge in me of knowing who and where my son comes from.
There is no way of knowing, in the end. Surrounded today by his family, celebrating his 5th birthday, Levi is still oblivious to and unaware of what my heart is dreaming. His exuberance about his own birthday celebration, surrounded by sisters, parents, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends who love him—Levi is perfectly peaceful and happy where he is. He doesn’t need to think of them. He doesn’t have to worry about his own present anymore, either.
But instead, I’d let my thoughts and prayers travel across the ocean, where I know there are two parents. A mother and a father who, especially today, must be thinking of their son’s birthday. In the middle of their hot, humid summer choirs today, they must remember the little boy born with fewer fingers and extra toes. The red knot decoration hanging in their apartment would flash the red note they left with him in the tinny blanket at the orphanage door. The flavorful breeze of their neighborhood would awaken in them the haunting last image of the sleeping boy, tightly wrapped in swaddling clothes, like a true Chinese dumpling.
Little do they know—and oh, how I wish they could—that the Maker of their boy’s heart and body placed him in a family that loves him to pieces. Their choice to abandon him was our chance to receive him. Their hurt in the last goodbye was our joy in our first hello. God did not waste one bit of our son’s past because He planned his future across the ocean: with us, his forever family.
We don’t know anything about Levi’s first parents. They could be anyone, living anywhere, doing anything really. But they must have toffee-brown soft skin, with wrinkled brown eyes and beaming smiles that warm your heart. I know they at least have souls that value life: because they birthed my son and nourished him for a month before leaving him in an orphanage.
There is not a holiday or birthday that passes by that my son’s delightful face doesn’t prompt my maternal heart to whisper a short prayer for his first parents. Though I am saddened at whatever circumstances prompted them to abandon their newborn, my heart—now thoroughly in love with our son—sends them unwritten notes of eternal gratitude and loving affection. They’ve given us the boy we’ve been praying for; the child our family needed; the abandoned life we’ve yearned to make our own.
Lord, if they ever lift their eyes to heaven, in a secret moment of solemn remembrance on their son’ birthday today, would You please reveal yourself to them? Would you show them how compassionate, hopeful, loving, and caring You are? Would You inundate their suffering hearts and minds with your Spirit of living life? Would You draw them into the shelter of your promises? And would You, please, find ways to comfort them in knowing that somehow Levi is loved and taken care of, thriving, and bursting with joy? Would You, Lord, please?