Rummaging through our box of paperwork, I find it and it hits me unexpected.
Her birth certificate, the one her birth mom stuffed in her bag as she sent her off to a “better life” at her uncle’s when she was only five. And at the top is a blue stamp that reads Siripi Rhino Camp.
Camp. The word hits me like a punch to the gut and I fight the urge to vomit. In Uganda, the word camp does not mean summer fun or starlit skies. In Uganda the word camp means war, displacement, hunger, hurt, trauma.
I can’t really wrap my mind around the fact that my beloved daughter spent the first years of her life in a place that is so beyond my comprehension.
Camp, this word that I want for no one in this world and hate for my daughter, this is all we have of the first years of her life. She remembers almost nothing from before her uncles’ house, and life leaves me with this word to ponder.
I want her to be a baby so I can strap her on me and hold her there and she will feel secure and safe and protected. I want to be the person who taught her to write her name and how much fun it is to make mud pies, and I want to be the person who laughed with her when she lost her first tooth. I want to know where the scars came from that she can’t remember the stories about, and I want to be the person who wiped her tears when she fell.
But I know that is not how God intended it.
He did not choose me for those moments, He chose me for these. I entered motherhood through a different door, and I get a different kind of stretch marks.
I believe that this is how He has loved us and I do not pretend to know why. But I know that He who did not spare His own Son will also graciously give us all things we need, and so I cling to believing this is for good.
I believe that He held her all the years that I didn’t. I believe that He stood beside her in the line for porridge that the UN workers passed out, and I believe that He clasped her hand as she made the long journey from Arua to Masaka without her first momma, and I believe that she leaned her head into His shoulder as she fell asleep on hard dirt floor to the sound of her uncle’s drunken fury. I believe that He carried her all the way here to this new family and I believe that His hand is on her still.
And maybe the missing pieces just allow me to trust Him more.
So I kneel beside her bed and I whisper His name over her and when I look at her face, I see His. I am thankful that He did choose me for now, these moments.
He is a good Father. And I can trust in that.