The Sacrifice of the Zwasos

She was so young when her life fell from desperation to complete desolation and in a survivalist culture, one hardly takes the time to explain such things to a child.  So, at the tender age of three she was ripped from home and everyone she had ever known and loved and dropped down into a new world to find her way.  The orphanage was hardly anything like home.  Her bed was strange and the noises in the night terrified her. 

There was no time for grief as she got about the business of just trying to survive in this new, crowded but lonely place.

Where oh, where had her parents gone?

Then one day after she had been there for six months, one of the nannies called to her.  She showed her pictures of strange, pale people and told her they were her family but then, she put the photos away and the child saw them no more.  She could hardly process such information and so she discarded it and went on her way.

Far away a family began to love her and pray for her but she soon forgot their faces and she did not understand.

Day followed day and then flowed into weeks, months and then years as all of the people in power who mattered seemed to move slower and slower in the process to allow the child to be grafted into her adoptive family.  The wait was excruciating for her parents and future siblings but for her, each day was the same.  She almost never even went outside the orphanage walls except to go to the doctor.  It was too dangerous.  Within those walls was her whole world.

Then, one day when she when was five, a driver came for her.  No one told her where she was going or why but soon he handed her over to a strange woman.  So tall.  So pale.  The woman, who had been told the child had been prepared, smiled and cried, held her close and told her she was beautiful.  The little girl smiled at that but was baffled and afraid when the woman said, “I am your mother.  You are my little girl.”

For a few days she stayed with the woman and sometimes she cried.  Other times she was angry and afraid, but the woman was kind and an old, buried longing stirred in the little girl’s heart.  Before she knew what was happening though, the driver came and tears were flowing down the woman’s face again, but this time there was no smile.  They were sad, sad tears.  Then she knelt before her, kissed her good-bye and promised to return.

For a few days the child thought of her but then no more.  She had learned to hold love loosely.

Then, the woman returned and this time she had a man with her.  “This is your Daddy,” the woman said.  The little girl liked the man right away but she felt an anger towards her new mother, an anger even she could not understand.  She stayed with them for several days and they went to many strange places.  Then together, they boarded an airplane and she went to a whole new world.

She felt everything was spinning out of control.  Nothing smelled the same, or looked the same.  The food was strange, her bed even stranger.  She slept with the mother for awhile because she was so, so afraid.  Sometimes, she clung to her and other times she pushed her away.  She wept and sometimes, the mother wept too.  Then, one night as the mother was tucking her into bed she asked the question that haunted her most.

Where were her first parents?  Where did they go?

The mother looked confused.  She had been told the child understood.  She herself, had spoken of it to her, but the child did not understand. 

The mother sensed the magnitude of the moment and picked up the child and carried her down the stairs.  She sat down with the little girl on her lap and the father sat beside them. 

Then, she told her.  Realization struck deep within the child and she sank into the mother’s chest and began to cry.  The mother held her tightly and the father wrapped his arms around them both and they all wept together, grieving the devastating loss that had made them a family. 

After that, the child tried to keep living life as best she knew how but the grief was a heavy, cumbersome thing and she struggled to carry it.  Everywhere she went, whatever she tried to accomplish, it seemed to get in the way.  Worst of all, it stood between her and new parents and no matter how they stretched to reach each other around its mass, their fingers could only brush, never fully embrace.

The mother wept and prayed and spring came.  One day when the child was playing in the yard and the mother tended her garden, the mother shouted for her daughter to come.  There, nestled in the branches of the climbing rose was a robin’s nest with three small, blue eggs inside.  The mother held the child so she could see and she explained the life that was to come. 

Every day, the mother and the child rushed out to see if the babies had arrived.  Then, the day came when three fragile, scrawny, feathery bodies appeared in place of the eggs and the child danced for joy.  Each day that followed, the mother and her children checked on the baby birds to find them growing stronger and fatter.  They watched the mother robin fly to her nest over and again with fat earthworms for their hungry mouths.

Then, the day came when joy crashed down into sadness. The baby birds were still in their nest snuggled together.  They looked as if they were simply asleep but not one of them drew breath.  child/bird

“What happened, Mommy?” the child asked.  “Why did the zwasos (birds) die?”

“Something has happened to their mother,” the mother gently replied.  “The neighbor’s cat probably got her and without their mother to provide for them, they starved.”

All of the children were sad but, the little girl’s grief was different than the rest.  It ran deeper than the others’ and the mother knew the child grieved for so much more than the baby birds.  So, the mother took a shovel and they buried the babies underneath the rose bush.  Then, she clipped a rose for each of her children to lay on the grave.  Afterwards, long after the other children ran off to play the mother sat in the spring grass and held the little girl as she wept and wept. 

The sacrifice of the zwasos had broken the grief into pieces the little girl could carry and the wall between them was gone.

So many tears on the road to become a family. 

The mother held her and held her and as she did, she turned her heart towards The Sure Hope, and she prayed.  She prayed for the child’s healing and for all of the cavernous needy places in her heart to be filled.  She prayed for comfort and peace to the One who had died but risen again with the keys to sin, Hell, and death in His hand.  She sat in humble gratitude and wonder before such a tender Saviour who would look down on the grief of a little girl and make a way for her to be free.

And she thanked Him for the sacrifice of the zwasos.

10 Replies to “The Sacrifice of the Zwasos”

  1. An allegory of supreme loss and love. This is a beautiful story. The Fry’s are in Haiti to bring home their little zwasos, even as I read this. I know K will embrace and share this story with her children.

    Thank you for your words.


  2. Wow. What a powerful and moving story. I have only recently found your blog, and have been so blessed and inspired. My husband and I have just begun our journey to bring home a child from Ethiopia. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  3. You eloquently tell of the journey of grief and healing that is deep, and rich, and moves in its own thyme. Thank you!

  4. Oh my. Thank you for sharing this poignant story of loss and of love. You and your darling hubby must be two strong people to have dealt with this, leaning on the Father, and melded your family together.


  5. That was… beautiful. Isn’t it amazing how words can portray the transformation from darkness to beauty?

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