The last thing we want to do is leave out the hard parts. Yes, we want to share the hopeful and joyful sides of adoption, but we also want to share the hard truths. The times that most people like to sweep under the rug, we want to share. Pictures have the ability to romanticize a situation, and this is the last thing we want to do. There is a fine line to walk when you want to present a story that is hopeful and beautiful but still be honest about the realities that go along with adopting a fourteen year old girl.So here we go... Eliana is very much her own person. She has fourteen years of life experience without much supervision. She was the oldest girl in her orphanage. She had her own room with her own wooden “bed”. She shared her clothes with all the other girls. She attended public school but was sometimes made fun of because she didn’t have parents. She lived in a foster home for a short period where they practiced Buddhism. Until yesterday she had never heard the name Jesus. Unlike most people, she has never had anyone to stand up for her. She has never had anyone speak confidence into her life. She has never had someone to protect her or punish her. Her fourteen years of life have been shaped by doing all of those things for herself. She is tough; she is a survivor. She did not want a hug when she first met her parents. She was told her whole life that parents were mean and that some parents in America would adopt you, take you to the states, and then use your organs for their ill, biological children. She was told that if she wasn’t good enough for her adoptive parents they would send her back. She has believed these lies, and they have shaped the way she reacts toward parents. She is timid at times and does not want to upset her parents. She is soft spoken with them and does not want to burden them with any needs or desires. She plays well with Parker and Lilli (her new siblings) and other adults that she views as friends. This has caused frustrations and sadness in Bill and Kelli because they are desperate to bond with their new daughter that they love so so much. Their new daughter still does not trust that love, and with distrust comes rejection, and with rejection comes tears. This is not easy on Bill and Kelli, but nothing of eternal significance is every easy. It has been so beautiful to watch this family adapt. Eliana would laugh and smile the first day, but the smiles were faint and infrequent. Now, after only six days, her whole body language has softened. She is more touchy with mamma and giggling constantly. The tension she has carried for thirteen years is melting away with every passing day. There is light at the end of the tunnel! The emotional defenses from a long, hard life in an orphanage are slowly being broken down, and behind those defenses we are seeing a precious little girl that desperately wants to be loved by her new parents. One of Eliana’s good friends from her orphanage was adopted 3 years ago. She lives in America and has wonderful parents. She wrote an email to Eliana saying that she knew what Eliana was going through. She knew the lies about parents and the fears of traveling to a new country. She assured Eliana to not be afraid because her new parents love her more than anything, and soon she will trust their love. She told her that her parents were not going to send her back to China, and that a man named Jesus loves her and chose this beautiful family for her. This man, Jesus, knew her before her birth, planned her life, and loves her more than she’ll ever know. I teared up reading this email. It was so powerful, so raw, and so real. This is a process. The beginning. The middle. But so not the end.