Her Birthday

Lydia is 2 today. And, I didn’t expect to feel the way I do.

For a Raudenbush child, a birthday means a bedroom door decorated with streamers and balloons when he or she wakes up in the morning. It means a meal of their choice, some fun activities, some sort of party, gifts, a celebration of them all day long. In fact, they think about it pretty much year round, looking forward to their day, making lists of game ideas, themes, gift ideas.

And, for me, their birthdays mean remembering. I remember being pregnant with them and my labor and delivery. I remember those first moments holding them, studying their faces, memorizing their cry.

So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I feel like I do today.

We are celebrating Lydia with the streamers, balloons, gifts, a special meal, and all that. But, I am also grieving that I cannot remember those first moments with my child. I didn’t know them.

A sweet friend gave birth to her second baby last week, a beautiful baby girl. Another friend and I went to the hospital the next day to see her and meet the baby. The mommy was glowing as she shared her birth story. We doted on that little girl, admiring every wrinkle of her brow and how sweetly folded up she still was. We looked at her expressions closely—“Oh, I think she just looked like her big brother,” “Did you see that? She really looked like her daddy when she made that face.”

I’m thinking of that visit today, wondering what it was like for my daughter’s birth mother today 2 years ago. I know I can’t romanticize the event. I do not know what her situation was; I just know that she and the birth father could not keep her. But, I do wonder. I wonder if they loved her the moment they first saw her. I wonder if she nursed her and cradled her close. I wonder if they saw themselves in her and laughed about her strength even as a newborn. I wonder what they named her.

I cannot tell Lydia today how long I was in labor with her, what the doctors said when she was born, how Daddy cried when she finally was born and she screamed for her first breath.

But, I can tell her what we were doing that day.

We joined the special needs program. On March 10, 2 years ago, after waiting nearly 2 years in the healthy child program, Mark and I sent an email to our agency with our application to join their program to adopt a special needs child—a step of faith we quietly took. We told them: “We feel like we need to open to the child God has for us. We do not know if she is in the sn program or not. But, we are opening ourselves to that possibility.” In another email I sent that day to an adoptive mom, I said, “We want to be open to what God may have for us, but this sure is scary.” And, it was.

I cannot tell Lydia about her first moments. I long to know what they were but have accepted that I most likely never will. But, I can share with her our story on her birthday and how God laid it on our hearts that very day to join the program that would lead us eventually to be a family.

We prayed this morning together as a family as we always do. We thanked God for Lydia, for her life, and for her birth family. We thanked Him that they protected her, that they cared for her as they did and made sure she’d be cared for 15 days later when they knew they could not do that any more. We prayed for them today that if they knew what day it was and if they are thinking about their little girl and missing her, that the Lord our God would comfort them and somehow allow them to know in their hearts that she is loved and secure.

Happy birthday, our sweet Lydia. Thank you, God, for this child.


Kelly Raudenbush

Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children–the youngest of whom (2 years old today!) is from Baoji, Shaanxi, China. She is a part-time editor and part-time blog-surfing junkie, always on the lookout for good resources and essays to post on this site that are way better than what she could come up with. You can learn more about their adoption story as well as follow day-to-day life on their personal blog.

11 Responses to Her Birthday

  • AdrienneMay says:

    I think that your story is just as special, it is just special in a different way.

  • Lynne says:

    Happy Birthday sweet Lydia! Your smile reveals the glory of God. Thinking and praying for you today Kelly, I’ll be in your shoes and probably feeling some of the same things in about 10 mo.

    I hope to meet her soon!

  • Stacy says:

    Happy Birthday Lydia. Beautiful post mama!!! I understand exactly what your heart feels but oh the beautiful story of her new life with you…a precious birth story home indeed!

  • Amber says:

    Happy Birthday to Lydia! She shares a birthday with our Loralyn who we are still waiting to go to China to meet. She turns 2 today, also!

  • Roberta says:

    Thankyou Kelly for such a precious honest post. I think that too, even more as the questions are coming out more and more (always during bathtime!) about her story. God fill my mouth with His Words for this precious story.

  • Brooke says:

    Happy birthday, precious Lydia!

  • Sara says:


    Thank you for not only writing here — this beautiful post that puts words to what every one of us feels when we’re reminded of having missed their monumental moments — but also for what you do with this site. What an awesome resource.

  • Jessica says:

    I never thought of it that way. It must be a strange feeling for those of you choose to have bio and then adopt. We chose to adopt only so it is all we know and so the birthday thing in’t difficult at all to me. Yes, I wish I had more details to share with my daughters but this is how God made our family and so certain things will remain a mystery.

  • Nancy says:

    Kelly what a heartfelt story and as always your faith is amazing
    thank you for sharing
    i may borrow piece of your celebration i love the decorating the bedroom door idea!

    Jessica thank you for adding your point of view i was feeling as if i was closed emmotionally thinking i had not felt that way at Ben’s birthday but as you did we have adoption as our only experience to form our family
    there is still some grief there that i could not give birth which reared its head unexpectedly but i’ll delve into that as we go

    kelly thank you for this blog sorry i haven’t checked in much life seems so busy now that i am a working mom i have a new appreciation for all who went before me in this great journey

    hard to believe its almost our year anniversary.

  • Lauren says:

    Happy birthday, Lydia! Thank you for sharing your heart, Kelly. I can imagine the difference you’re so acutely aware of- having both biological and adopted children. I know she’ll be over the moon with joy with the stories you WILL be able to tell her!

  • Jill says:

    Lydia’s story is HER VERY SPECIAL story. Orchestrated in God’s perfect way!
    She is a miracle!

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