Letters to Ben

Sweet Baby Ben, 
It's me your Mama. We have been waiting for you a long time for you, in fact, our journey to you started long before you were born, even before your older sisters and brothers were born. Back when Mommy and Daddy first were married, we knew one day we would adopt a child.  God had adopted us into his family, and we knew one of our responses to our incredible adoption would be to one day welcome a child into our home through the same avenue. And Ben you are that Child. For years we waited for the God's perfect timing and God's perfect child, and now we know it is you. I always wondered if you would be a boy or a girl, how old you would be, whether you would have dark hair and eyes like Mommy or light hair and eyes like your Daddy. Now I know you are a precious two-year-old boy who has black hair and brown eye and the cutest chubbiest cheeks. 

I have to tell you a little story to help explain how God picked you just for our family. Two years ago Daddy bought me a necklace that looks like a nest with baby bird eggs in it. We put six eggs in the nest as a promise to ourselves to one day adopt. We had no idea that very week on the other side of the world you were born, but God did. At the time when your first mother was wrestling with whether she could keep you, your second Mama was making plans to find you.  Your Daddy and I began to pray more for you and ask God to lead us to you. About a year later Mommy saw my very first photo of you. I immediately sensed you were ours and I showed your picture to Daddy, and he felt the same connection. So we set to find out if you needed a family and you did. 

We discovered you were living in a wonderful foster home called Morning Star in Beijing China where you were loved and treasured however you needed a forever home.  Mommy and Daddy asked God to show us if we were the family meant for you and through many signs and confirmations he made it very clear you were supposed to be ours. 
And so we began our journey to bring you home. We had to jump through many hoops and over many hurdles but God provided all the way, and we knew you were worth all the work. Your brothers and sisters sacrificed a lot to bring you home because they already loved you very much. We all love you, so many people love you Ben and have been praying and helping to bring you to our family. 

You may have been an orphan on paper, but we know there has never been a time you were not loved. First you China Mother loves you, she cradled you, nursed you and cared for you until she felt she no longer could, and then she wrapped you up and placed you outside the gate of the Children's Welfare Institute.  Shortly after arriving there the doctors discovered a hole in your heart. This hole was meant to harm you, but God used it for your good and through it made way for you to go to Morning Star.  Meredith and the Ayi's loved you like a son. They sang, rocked and played with you. They kissed your boo, boo's and cheered for you as you learned new things. Most importantly they made sure you never felt like an orphan. 
Morning Star was like a family to you, and because God brought you there, we were able to find you. 

You family has found you, and we love you just as you are. One of the reasons we knew you were ours was because God also allowed you to have an extra 21'st chromosome which makes you extra special. You and your brother Sam have Down Syndrome, and Sam has shown us just how amazing you will be.  God has plans for you, what was meant for your harm is now being used for God's glory and your good. 
As much as we love you and your Ayi's love you and your birth mom loves you there is one who loves you even more. He is the one who has written your story. He had loved you from before there was time, he thought of you when he created the world; he knit you in your mother's womb, he brought you to Morning Star and then he led us to find you.  His finger prints are all over your story because he desperately loves you and had a great purpose for your life.  
You are loved! We can't wait to be yours forever!
Ay Ni Day Yaun, Welcome to our family. I love you. 
Mommy. 

Ben,
I can’t believe that we are finally about to meet you for the first time.  Your mommy and I have been waiting for this day for a long time now.   I can remember the day a picture of the most handsome little boy with jet black hair, chubby cheeks and beautiful eyes popped up on my phone. My life changed that day because it was the first time I ever saw you.  Your mommy and I had just begun praying about finally pursuing the dream of adoption we had shared since we were married and she sent me a text message with your picture and a question – “Can I ask about him?”  I have seen lots and lots of pictures of wonderful little boys and precious little girls who needed a mommy and a daddy. And my heart would break for each one.  But there was something more this time.  I’m not sure exactly what it was, but there was this certain sense that perhaps this particular little boy was meant to be my son.  So I sent back my answer to your mommy’s question.  My answer was “Yes.”  
That day was over a year ago.  And we have been working and praying ever since to get to you, to bring you into our family, to make you our son.  There have been moments along this journey when it seemed like this day would never arrive.  You see, Ben, when you come to realize that your son is sleeping on the other side of the world instead of just down the hall where you know he should be the days just can’t pass quickly enough to bring him home.  With Each passing day we waited for you, each little prayer that we prayed for you, each new person we got to tell you, every picture we received of you, every form we filled out for you and every fundraiser we put together for you, our hearts longed more and more to be with you and for you to be with us.  And now we are here – at the doorstep of our new life together, as a family.  Forever.  And we couldn’t be happier.  
But we’re not the only ones.  Not by a long shot.  You’ve met Ellie, Sam, Henry, Nora Kate and Charlie in the little book we sent you.  But your new brothers and sisters can’t wait to finally be able to hug you and show you around your new house. They’ve been waiting anxiously for this day to come too.  We have been praying for you as a family daily.  They’ve told their teachers and friends at church and school about you.  They are always excited to see the newest picture we have received of you.  And they’ve been working hard too - helping us with the various fundraisers we have done to raise the money we needed to get you and even putting on one or two of them themselves.  And as we have been pursuing and praying for you, we have developed a little family motto to remind us why we are doing this.  We are doing this because “love makes room.”  It’s what love does.  And not just when there is extra room to go around.  But even when making room means giving something up.  
We have been talking with your new brothers and sisters about how making room in our family for you means more joy for all of us.  But it will also require sharing and sacrifice  more too.  Making room for more always costs something - like being willing to let mommy and daddy leave them behind for 17 days while we traveled to get you.  But even though they were sad about being separated from us for so long they were willing to share us because they were so excited about getting to be with you.   In fact, they have been more than just willing, they have been excited to share their lives, their rooms, their games, their toys and even their mommy and daddy with you.  Because they want you to be their brother.  Because they love you Ben.  I know you have never met them, but they already love you.  They really do.  
And so do your new Nanas and Papas, your aunts and uncles, your cousins and so many who are part of our church or who are connected to our family in some other way.  It has honestly taken a village, Ben, and a rather large one to be quite honest to make you part of our family.  So many different people have helped to make it possible for us to bring you into our family.  And they did so joyfully – because they love us, and they love you.  I can’t wait for you to meet them all.  
There are so many people, Ben, who have been praying for you and who can’t wait to meet you.  But it wouldn’t be right to fail to mention that there are some people who, while they are so deeply happy to see you find your forever family, are going to be sad at the Ben-shaped hole your departure to join us will leave in their own hearts.  You have been so blessed, Ben.  And I am so deeply grateful.  You don’t yet know, son, how different things could have been.  That’s because a little hole in your own heart allowed you to be placed in a very special place while you waited to find your forever family – while you waited for us.  This place is called Morningstar and it is full of loving people who have sacrificially and joyfully lived out the motto “Love makes room” themselves – people like Meredith and some Ayi’s who have cared for you since you arrived there nearly two years ago.  They made that house and all your little friends as close to a forever home and family as they could get without actually being one.  And though you likely won’t remember those days aside from the picture’s we’ll show and the stories we’ll tell, these have been very sweet, warm, happy days for you.  And your mommy and I will forever be grateful.  And even your first mommy, Ben, who made what your mommy and I have come to assume must have been the terribly difficult decision to give you away loved you deeply enough to make the very brave decision to give you life.  And again, your mommy and I are forever grateful.  Because of all these decisions, all these hard and often sacrificial decisions, were what have brought you to us.  
Of course, this journey started well before your mommy first sent your picture to me, well before Morningstar, even well before your birth.  Because even more than our friends and family, even more than your brothers and sisters – in fact, even more than your mommy and me, there is someone else who wanted you to be part of our family.  It’s the same One who simply wanted you to be.  You see, son before He hung up the first star in the universe God had you in his mind.  He wanted you to be.  He wanted you to exist.  He wanted you to be a gift to the world he was about to make.  And he wanted you to be a gift to us and us to you.  God wanted us to be a family.  And since that moment, He has caused everything over such a great long history in such a great big universe to work together such that you would be born into this world on December 1, 2013.  He hand designed everything about you – from your extra cute smile to the extra chromosome that makes you so especially you.  He even chiseled out that little space in your heart that he would later use to guide you to Morningstar where a picture was taken one afternoon and placed on the internet that your mommy would see.  All of this, and much more has led us to you.  What I am saying is that we are pursuing you because God is pursuing you.  And more importantly than anything else I could tell you – and what I plan to spend the rest of my life telling you is this – that God loves you.  He loves you very, very much.  In a couple of days, you will officially be a part of our family because God wanted you to be.  You see, Ben, I am trusting and praying that making you our son is all part of God’s plan to make you His son, part of His forever family.  In fact, we can love you son only because he first perfectly loved us.  And it’s a love I can’t wait to tell you all about.  Fortunately, in a couple of days, we’ll finally have all the time we want to talk about it.  Welcome to our family son.  Your daddy loves you.  

Rachel Baxter