I entered their home weary. The girls were both sick with the same cold that seemed to be making its rounds. We sat down to open gifts with Matt’s mom and step-dad. The girls opened theirs first, then Matt and then me. I opened a small white jewelry box. Inside were pearls, freshwater pearls, my favorite. Each individual pearl slightly differing from the others. I took the necklace from the box, the strand heavy in my hand. I wound the iridescent jewels between my fingers, like someone would hold rosary beads, praying, dreaming, wondering.
Two years ago this month, Matt and I stared at a glossy piece of paper with the word, “Ethiopia” written across it and pictures of three little faces with beautiful brown eyes looking back at us. Much like you would during a pregnancy, we have talked about names for our child. From the beginning, we knew, boy or girl, we wanted our child to have Hudson as his or her middle name. Hudson being the family name, Matt’s middle name, and the origination of mine and Matt’s ever after (a fun story for another day). One day during my priority time, I stumbled across a little parable tucked away in Matthew, the parable of the Pearl of Great Price, where Jesus tells about a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had to buy it. At the time I came across this parable, we were trying to choose a name for the baby in my tummy, our little Charlotte. I remembered reading that the name Margaret meant pearl. From then on we knew… if EEOO was a girl we would name her Margaret Hudson.
In the two years since we first began this journey, my eyes have been opened. I have seen what Pearls look like. Pearls look like the fatherless, the forgotten, the left-outs, the abandoned, the unloved, the unchosen, the hungry, the weak, the lonely, the hurting. Pearls have eyes and they have souls. They have stories and they have dreams. Pearls in Ethiopia, certainly, but also Pearls dotting my every daily encounter. People hoping, needing to be loved. The grumpy man in the checkout line at Target, the server with special needs, the friend who lost a parent, the mom whose child is throwing a temper tantrum in the aisle at Kroger, the girl who has been a bridesmaid seventeen times and just wonders when her time will come, the one who looks like she has it all together but inside she’s crumbling. Pearls. Beautiful. Valuable.
Only hours after I opened those pearls from Matt’s step-dad, we received news that talk was stirring in Ethiopia. Meetings, discussions, recommendations, potentially huge changes coming to Ethiopia’s inter-country adoptions. As word started coming in through our AWAA Facebook group, I remembered the pearls I had just been given. Those pearls, a whispered promise, “I will not leave them. They have a Father. I will fight for My children.” I pulled the beads from their box letting their mineral sound click between my fingers. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to give these pearls to a son or a daughter. But I know our family’s heart is permanently stitched to Ethiopia. In our minds, it has looked liked adoption and we pray it still might. But if it looks different, our answer will still be the same, “Yes.”
Maybe one day our Ethiopian daughter will wear them when she graduates high school like the pearls Matt gave me the day I tossed my graduation cap. Maybe our Ethiopian son will give them to his best friend, his blushing bride, the night before they say, “I do.” Or maybe I will travel to Ethiopia and take each single pearl, cup it in the hands of an orphan child and tell daughter after daughter and son after son, “You are loved and you have a Father.”
For now, I will hold these pearls tight, their luster winking at the promises of what’s to come, each one a reminder that the best things in life are formed when God takes the unexpected irritant, the unwelcome change, the unwanted pain and creates beauty from it. The promise that when our circumstances feel like 40-grit sandpaper we can hold on, believing the promises of a God who reminds us, “Fear not. Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today… the Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.”