Every day at 10am, I find myself in a different online world. Facebook no longer matters…well, not the American version. I log into the version used in Soccerboy’s country. And then I wait. And wait.
He is just coming home from school.
How was your day? Are the teachers nice? Ja, ja. Lots of emoticons. Kisses. Pictures of cars.
I’ve been trying to connect over Skype with him, but trying to get an account name from a nine-year-old is proving to be rather difficult.
He’s not there every day. He’s not always interested in spending a lot of time talking with me. He’s nine, after all.
And I can’t be there every day either. But the more we talk, the faster the emails fly, even when we are offline.
Building relationships across an ocean is hard. Two languages. Lots of translating and clarifying. Rules about access to computers that I don’t understand.
Some of my friends are lucky—their host children have cell phones. But even then, communication can be difficult. Some call the orphanages and foster homes. I haven’t done that yet. I sure would like to hear his voice, though.
And others of my friends face different challenges. Their host children can’t read or write. Communication isn’t possible to certain orphanages. They send gifts and hope they are delivered, but may never get confirmation.
And I am finding that even my American Facebook isn’t so American anymore. My wall is filled with statuses about a successful chat or a message that needs to be translated or a terrifying fear that needs prayer.
“My host daughter ran away from her home and won’t go back. She says she’s really hungry.”
“My host son’s phone broke and I can’t reach him.”
“I chatted with my host children today and they asked me how long until Christmas.”
“What does this message mean?” –-“I miss you and I dream about you.”
“My host son has his interview for a student visa and he is nervous. Please pray. Update: he’s coming! Next week!”
“To —- : my host daughter told me to let you know that your host son got his gift and loved it!”
And so, so many posts about adoption. Failing. Succeeding. A child who says no but might say yes if they were hosted one more time. A child who says yes, but her sibling says no. A no that, with a message of “come get me,” is suddenly a yes.
I have always known the scripture “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” and have applied it in many different circumstances. But I have not known its richness until now. From one status to the next I am weeping and then rejoicing.
It is hard to explain what this world looks like to those who are not in it. I don’t know how to be in social situation and say, “I’m so sorry, but I cannot speak right now without crying. My friend’s host son is contemplating returning to his abusive father. My dear ones are hurting because their host daughter is running from everyone who wants to help her. My heart is not here. It is an ocean away today.”
And I stand alone, knowing that perhaps it looks odd. Perhaps they don’t understand how a child I’ve never met is overcoming my heart. How my friends across the country, friends whom I may also have never met, are the ones who have my attention today.
And tomorrow, I may jauntily break into a smile, because other friends are packing their suitcases for a trip to bring a soon-to-be-daughter home.
I began this journey nine months ago, hoping to expand my world and reach out to people—children, a child—outside of my little corner. I wanted to make my space bigger. I wanted to do what I could within the boundaries of my everyday to live with an eye on something eternal. I knew I was hexagonal and I wanted to celebrate that. Joy in the not-fitting.
And I’ve found that through this process, I have been revealed. All of my corners are coming into sharper relief–both the good and the bad. I am less good at pretending to be round. I have lost some of the holes I used to squish myself into.
But I am more myself, too. And I’ve found others who are discovering their own spaces, too. None of us know where it will end for each of us, what stories we will have to tell from the journey. But we keep working, pushing forward. Hacking. Discarding. Embracing.
It’s a lonely business, this straddling of two worlds. Painful. The losses can be terribly debilitating some days.
But it’s rich business, too. Rewarding. The faith-building can be overwhelmingly amazing some days.
And so we live here. And we fear. And we rejoice. And we cry. And we hope. And we persevere. And we despair.
But through all of it we love. We love across an ocean. We love with a love that knows no height nor depth. Some days, it feels so small and so weak. But it is enough. It has to be.
We must love.
It is the one thing that will always cross oceans and carry us all.