Stromberg's Adoption Dream

The journey to our little girl in China

11:11

It’s mothers Day and I’m filled with gratitude that I get to be a mother.  Not everyone does, so I see it as total gift.  It’s going to be a sweet day filled with church, sweet homemade gifts and extra hugs and kisses from my kiddos, especially Lydia.  She’s been counting down the days until Mothers Day or ‘Muvers Day’ as she calls it.  So sweet.

Today I’m grateful for all the mothers who came before me and I will have the joy of spending the day with my own dear mother and grandmother.  My grandma is 91, beautiful, healthy, and living independently.  I have also been blessed with a wonderful Mother-in-law and I will be thinking of her today too.  So grateful.  And perhaps this year more than ever I will be thinking of a woman, a mother I don’t know.  She lives in China, or at least this is what we assume.  I don’t know her and very likely never will, but I love her.  I love a stranger half a world away, because she gave me my daughter.

I say I don’t know her, but I do know some things about her.  I know she is beautiful.  I know she is courageous and I know she thinks of Lydia, if not in fleeting moments, then perhaps every day.  Because though, she is not raising this little girl, she is also her mother.

We introduced Lydia to the term birth-mother about a month ago.  It wasn’t planned and in fact the conversation came about a year or more earlier than I anticipated.  It happened in the car.  Big parenting moments never seem to come when you think they will.  They almost always catch us by surprise and we rarely feel ready for them.  This certainly keeps us humble and dependent on God, which I suppose is a gift itself, because I’d rather trust God for words than fumble for them myself.

We were driving back from getting Lydia’s birthday balloons and some ice cream on a Saturday night.  Albin said, “Papa said we were related to King George, so why aren’t we still royalty?”  (note- my Dad got really into Ancestry.com, several months ago) We chatted a bit and then Lars and I sang several renditions of “You’ll never be royal”.
The kids thought we were SUPER cool. …No they did not.  🙂
The car was quiet for a minute.
And then Lydia said, “I’m related to my nannies in China.”
Lars said, “No honey, you’re not related to the nannies, but they took care of you.”
Lydia- “Who am I related to?”
(BIG PAUSE)  I had fleeting thoughts of she’s so little, this is so big!  Which term do I use?  ‘tummy mommy’ ‘china mommy’ ‘brith mommy’ ???
Me- You’re related to your China mommy.
Lydia – What’s a China mommy?
Me- The lady who had you in her belly in China.
Lydia- I miss her.  I don’t know her name.
Me- You’re right, we don’t know her name.  (And then I said the one thing I do know) But we do know that she was beautiful, because you’re beautiful.
(without skipping a beat)
Lydia- Yeah, she had earrings.  🙂
Me- Yes, Lydia the woman who had you in her belly is called your birth mommy.  Because she gave birth to you.
(After a few long moments of silence)
Lydia- Yes and do you know what else I know about her?  She loves God…  And Jesus.
Me front seat- Full, silent, ugly-cry.  Just not at all what I expected she might say. And she said it like it was simple fact.  Not an idea or a curiosity, like it was something she simply knew. Lydia didn’t see my tears in the front seat that day.

Deep breaths.  Just wow.

Lydia’s response in telling us that her birth-mother knows God is so significant to us because maybe a year and half ago we decided to set a time each day to pray for her birth-parents in China.  This falls under the category of prayers you throw out to God knowing he sees a much fuller picture than you do.  So everyday at 11:11 we pray.  We pray for their health and well-being.  We pray for their safety and happiness. But mostly we pray for their salvation.  That they would come to know God, to know Jesus as savior and to have life in his name.  I have a Chinese friend who came to faith as an adult and she has shared that living in China she didn’t know hope.  And yet, she knew deep in her soul that their was more to life, and that this life was not all there is.  I believe this to the core of my being. So, once or twice a day, at 11:11 I pray that Lydia’s birth-parents in China would come to faith, and because it’s very unlikely we would ever meet them here on earth, I pray one day she would meet them in heaven.  And I think she will. This seems lofty and unrealistic, but it’s not.

God is that big, that good and his picture is not limited, it is full and complete.

And for some wonderful reason I actually see with my own eyes the numbers 11:11 flash on a screen at some point each day.  What I’m saying is, I happen to glance at the clock each day at 11:11.  Not at 11:10 or 11:12, at 11:11.  I assure you, this is not some jedi-mind trick, rather it feels a whole lot like some kind of miracle. Some times I’m running errands with Lydia before lunch, other times it’s late at night just before bed.  But I am certain to catch 11:11 on the microwave, the oven, the computer, the car, Lars’ alarm clock, my phone (which I started taking pictures of) every day at 11:11.  It’s become a joke between Lars and I, like, oh, there it is again, time to pray.

I take it as a gesture of comfort from God.  First, he cares enough about Lydia’s birth-parents to have people praying for them, daily.  This is amazing.  And then he cares about me enough to remind me to glance at a clock at this exact minute of the day.  The mystery of it all is amazing and gracious and I’m so grateful.

So, today I will think about Lydia’s birth-mother in China and reflect on the fact that I don’t know her story.  I don’t know if she is tall or short, single or married, working at a factory, or behind a desk, or perhaps home with other children to care for.  I don’t know her story, but I do know her courage to carry a child in her womb and her love in choosing to place this precious girl at the gate of the orphanage, shy of a week old. Whatever her story, she courageously chose to give Lydia hope and a future and for that, I love her.

So, if you’re a praying person, I invite you to glance at a clock at 11:11 and lift up a prayer. And whether it’s for Lydia’s birth parents or someone God has put on your heart, you can trust God in his full-picture glory is listening.
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One thought on “11:11

  1. Robert Stromberg on said:

    Katie, Thank you for the beautiful Mothers Day story You write in a way that touches the heart. We are anxiously waiting for the next chapter. Great Grandma Lou and Great Grandpa Bob.

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