China Journey 2018 Video

The long awaited moment is here!! My 2018 China Journey video. It was so hard to put 6 months into just 13 mins and 33 seconds but when it was done, I just knew. Thank you to so many for having an interest in it! I successfully made half a room of people cry on Sunday, so have tissues handy.
Wow I love love love these kids. 

– JMF

Reintegration is a word that hurts.

On January 31st, 2018, I flew from my home to a country I felt was my second home. Only when I arrived and pulled my suitcases into my room and saw the morning sunrise, I was stunned to see a different China than the one I’d left. Northern China was not Central China. I was no longer home. The accents were different, the cuisine as well and so were all the people. The whole first month I cried because for the first time China didn’t feel like home.

Six weeks later, I was bouncing around in the back of a van giggling and thinking I never wanted to leave. The unfamiliar became my place I lived, the different became normal. The orphans became my dearly beloveds and my coworkers became my family.

China once again became my home, but it took a lot of accepting that this wouldn’t be exactly the same, but instead a new place where God would use me to bring beautiful things into a hard land.

6 months after calling China home, I would tearfully hug everyone at the end of my stay, break my heart with every whispered goodbye to the kids, then fly home and be with my family. I’d work through a little reintegration, “hey toilet paper goes in the toilet, also stop speaking Chinese to white people”, and … just be home, I thought.

Reintegration is a word that hurts.

Only when I got home, everything and everyone was foreign. My parents and dog were the same. Everything else was different. Or everything was the same, and I was different? The sky was blue, no one spoke Chinese and everything felt like panic.

Home was now foreign. The beach wouldn’t even feel like home for a good 6 weeks.

Reintegration has been one of the hardest, most confusing and bewildering times in my life. I’ve felt as though the rug has been ripped out from under me, and nothing is safe.

But location and culture weren’t the only things that had changed….I came back to a different America, I came back to a different work schedule and no 60 orphans to love and be with daily. Every Sunday I cry because the hymns aren’t in Chinese. I envisioned myself coming home victorious and have instead walked around the past 7 weeks completely and utterly broken: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

It doesn’t feel dignified or glamorous to type that. It feels too humbling. I don’t like it.

I left China as China JMF, landed in the USA as American Jean Marie, and feel like I lost myself somewhere over Russia. I don’t know who I am anymore or what to do.

At 3 weeks I said “Goodness, I thought I’d be better at this than I am…Who am I? Why is the sky blue. The rain isn’t acid. You don’t need your passport., you aren’t going into Beijing. Do I take pictures today? Why is it so quiet in the night? Where are my people? Why isn’t anything in Chinese? You’re in America now.” <– a short list of things I repeat to myself hundreds of times per day to orient myself…” (read the rest of that post HERE).

Bring up orphans and China and I’m at home. Bring up the surf report and I’m okay.
Walk past 300 options of yogurt or walk through Whole Foods and I want to scream.

Reintegration has been so so hard. Not feeling like I belong anywhere has been harder. 

For the first time in my life, I’ve turned into an introvert who finds safe places in a corner at parties where I don’t have to talk and someone who googles at 2am whether culture shock can present as mild PTSD and if it’s okay to never be yourself ever again.

I told my friend’s Mama a few days ago in tears: “I feel like everyone else is still running their lives and the world keeps spinning and wow, I just need to stand still for a minute.” 

The only reason I can think of that God would allow me to feel this full agonizing brunt of these hardest days of being in my country but not being a part of it is this: if I ever adopt, now I will know “in a small part” how an orphan feels coming “home” for the first time.

God, let that be the reason.  

This is a small view into the grief that an orphan feels coming “home”.

So much of an orphan’s life is made up of loss. Coming to a place that you expect to feel like home and your beloved people love you so very much but yet deeply aching for what you left behind you. Yes, this feels like grief. Yes, God will make it feel like home. Yes, this seems like loss. Yes, let them hold you in a million hugs and just sit still and make it every day. Yes, it will take time and so so so much grace for yourself.

So I’m hoping upon hope that all these terrible reintegration days will one day mean I’m holding a son or daughter in my arms and grieving with them and remembering these days and be able to weep and mourn with them for all they’ve lost.

And build a home they will grow to love and know they’re loved without a doubt.

I never expected coming home to be so alienating or so unbelievably heartbreaking.

But I’m held in a hundred hugs and sustained by the One Who is our home no matter where we go and One Day will lead us to a place that we’ve always longed for.

{and if you see me, hugs will always feel like home, and I’d love one}

With love always,
– JMF