Adoption journeys stalled, Covid-19 in 2020, she should be home by now, nations stalled in panic, doors slammed shut….we are stuck. And the ones who suffer are the tiny souls who wait.

Being stuck invites inevitable well meaning cliches…”It’s not the right time yet, in God’s time, God must be teaching you something, enjoy this time.”

And so it goes.

What the un-stuck cannot fathom is the love. Take your own child and put them in another place, cared for by other people, oceans away. Add in few to no updates, a lot of sleepless nights, wondering, waiting…that is the stuck. The love isn’t just a seed, waiting to grow. It’s real time love, already deeply rooted in the dark soil of paperwork, watered in months of tears, and grown in the desert of prayer.

Stuck is the small face on the fridge, reluctantly taken down, replaced by an older face. It’s the missed first steps, first words, candleless birthdays, the deep breath and closed eyes of more bad news.

Stuck is the aching bittersweetness of the longed for update. It’s the slow wait, but also the disbelief at the passage of time. Stuck is deep diving into adoption waters, knowing you can’t breathe again until the weight of her is in your arms.

It’s not easily explained unless you’ve donned the shoes.

Those who are stuck aren’t alone. In the wee hours glow, together we reach for each other, tapping out news and fears on tear drenched keyboards.

And for those alongside the stuck, just be with us, for bandaging words aren’t necessary. The necessary is simply the space to wipe a tear or clear our throat when her name comes up. It may be something as simple and profound as a hand on the shoulder and “this is hard”. It’s the room to grieve lost time and childhood. We aren’t fixable.

Because, you see, loving an unmet child doesn’t equal less love than what we have for those already home.

It just means that, for now, we are holding our breath…until that door opens….and there she is.

Only then can we catch our breath again.

the day you were born…

Dear, little Ella Fēi,

May 1st. Today is the day we celebrate your birth. While we may never know the exact day of your birth, you have been gifted the birthday of May 1st. May day. What a lovely day to celebrate you on! The day of spring, May flowers popping up their vibrant heads after April showers….the day where, in the past, sweet spring traditions were passed along from child to child.

In our country, children used to gather up armfuls of spring flowers, leave them on doorsteps, knock, and run away giggling…hiding in the bushes for the pure pleasure of seeing the delight on the receiver’s face. May day.

And you, my child, may have been found on this first day of May…..and while your finder may have viewed you with dismay, people gathering around, wondering where this tiny flower came from….where the authorities may have passed you from person to person before you came to be in the place you now are, please know that we celebrate the sweet gift that you are to us on this May day….the gift that we know you will be to us.


Even though governments, disease, panic, restrictions, and all that is shoving hard against the brave of us….. and every waiting family, even though every new announcement is time pushed back, pushed back, pushed back…the frustrating, helplessness of the unknown, separating families, holding strict hostage of adoption timelines……We still look ahead, longing for the day where we can arrive and hold our sweet flower in our arms.

So, despite the bittersweetness of this day…. getting out your little dresses, shoes and toys that were tucked away, patiently awaiting their small owner….we celebrate this day of your birth.

May day.


Ella Fēi, your Mama woke up this morning to the usual….your big brother thumping down the hallway, throwing open the bedroom door, “Mama, UP!” he states….He’s enthusiastically thumping a pink balloon on his head.

Where did he get the balloon, I sleepily wonder?

I walk out to see that your big sisters have sweetly decorated for you…..

This, Ella Fēi, is your day, decorated….. we should have had you by now. You are pink, blue, green….all the joy colors of spring.


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Here is your May Day birthday outfit….you should have been wearing it by now…Flowers for Ella Fēi.


Here are your patiently waiting lovies…….the future of snuggles, tea parties and long walks…. you should have been holding them by now.


This is a little gift from your siblings…..a sunhat and choose happy….to match your big brother. You should have been twinning it with him by now….


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This is your big sister, making a delicious cake, celebrating you!


This is your chromosome cutie brother, mad at Mama for making him try on your new hat for size. Big brother hates trying on girlie things…’s pretty funny, actually.


Your Daddy went to the Chinese market to get ingredients for his famous homemade dumplings.


And here is your cake, from scratch by big sis.



I guess I write all of this so that you will know that you were chosen, wanted, loved, looked forward to…all the lovely things that make up who we are.

The family things.

The God things.

The adoption things.

May Day is the day of spring, new life, colors and promises.

I pray that you somehow sense this today, our Ella Fēi, our May Day girl.

Happy Birthday.