Tribute to J

From the time I was very young, I always wanted a son. I remember having a baby doll I named John and thinking there was some kind of magic between mothers and sons. When we did get pregnant I was actually quite surprised to find out I was having a girl! 

A couple months after Eleanor was born we took our first long term foster placement. That was you, J. The worker told me you were the cutest baby boy they had ever seen. And you were, but we could see the trauma and pain under your smile right away. I wanted you to love me as much as I loved you, but you screamed and resisted the affection. I had never seen an angry baby before or even knew it was possible to have as many feelings as you did in that tiny body. You were sick so we checked off every box and made every appointment to get you healthy. But we couldn’t heal your soul, we didn’t know all your history or the wounds you carried far too young to understand. You wanted your Mom and Dad and we were just strangers. Sam did such a good job at loving you, he did everything in his power for you to know you were safe and taken care of. Honestly you scared me and I didn’t understand you yet. I was a brand new Mama with two babies and I was just overwhelmed. 

But we knew you needed us. We knew you were supposed to be here. So we held you and kept showing up. I can laugh now at how many times you projectile puked all over me at 5am. You liked when I wore you in the carrier so we took lots of early morning walks just learning each other. We treated you like our own son and you were accepted as just that by our community of family and friends that fell in love with you so very quickly. You charmed strangers on the street with your infectious smile. 

Without me even realizing it time was passing and all of our walls were coming down, trust was being built. You started to see me as your Mom, a safe place. I was never sure if I was doing a good job, but I begged God for strength to love you well. I prayed over you each night and sang songs and scriptures over your sleeping body. I prayed for your family and your future and my heart softened to see it all as a gift, to be part of another’s story in such a deep, transforming way. I messed up so many times, but God kept pouring out grace on my tired weak self.

Hearing your first words, seeing you crawl and walk and give hugs and kisses was such a gift and a celebration. None of it came easily and it was like waves of healing seeing you thrive. You were so full of energy and passion as a toddler. You would raise your eyebrows and point and gasp when you saw something you were excited about. You loved to clap and raise your hands when any music came on. Your most favorite things were dinosaurs, splashing in water, Sam, balloons and our cat, Agnes- I’m with you on all those dude. I can hear your amazing laugh all the time in my head. Eleanor still loves watching the videos of you two just baby babbling back and forth and running around chasing each other, my little unconventional twins. 

God taught me so much about His love for His kids through you. The love that pursues and chases us even when we resist and it’s not reciprocated. The love that leans into the hard and painful and remains faithful in its commitment. He chooses us over and over and His love changes us when we encounter it.

I’m still heartbroken that I had to say goodbye to you twice, that your story ended so differently than I thought it would. You would be turning 3 years old today. But I know it’s not the end, you are now living in the constant presence of that love.  Your name means “to flow down” and references the Jordan River in the Bible. Your short life is having a ripple effect spreading far and wide, flowing down and touching so many hearts. I have countless letters and emails from people who loved you and were impacted by your story, which is God’s story. I want to try to see through my pain and live unoffended by God, worshipping him through the mountains and valleys. I want to remember what a privilege it is to call you my first son. We love you always Jordan. Can’t wait to see you again.