Frayed edges, stained center (outdated by American standards,) the throw rug beneath displayed the wear of many feet that had paced before me. Arms crossed and tucked in close, not for the chill in the enclosed concrete room, but an effort to contain the emotions with in me. My third child, escorted by a dark haired woman in a floral smock, was delivered.
She didn’t know me. No clue she was already loved, prayed for and had taken a permanent place in my heart. Mouth covered by her little right fist, the Russian caretaker pulled her along with her left. Moments passed and her fist no longer could contain the fear that rose within her. She cried.
Tears fell often from her confused eyes as day after day passed, hotel after hotel changed from the orphanage region to the court region and ending in Moscow. Impossible for a 2 1/2 yr old to process leaving the only space she had ever known with people she had never seen.
Outbursts of sorrow were expected. I comforted best I could and it had to be me as terror overcame her every time my husband looked at her or came close for the first week. (Men were rare to visit the orphanages and were usually Drs. that poked and prodded.) Dave decided it was easy to read for long periods of time in the bathroom but never did grow fond of the hours spent asleep in the bathtub . (The things we do for our children that they never know.)
Ten, twelve, maybe fourteen (after 5 it’s just to many to count) hours on a plane to land on American soil. Minor acceptance of Dave in her presence allowed the first leg of our journey home with Macee to avoid tears. We sung Barney to keep her happy and she even made attempts to join in with many of the words. Two months from 3 years old, she could jabber a monologue in Russian and proved to be a quick study of the big purple dinosaur.
The second leg, shortened to only a one hour flight, proved she had stored up all her tears from the first flight to be unleashed for all the other tired, midnight travelers to experience. I did what any respectable new mom of a child with limited English would do, I bribed her silence with M&Ms. (Sometimes it’s about whatever works.) The routine was on repeat. Feed M&M, it rested in her mouth, then she chewed, then swallowed, followed by 30 seconds of calm then sudden outburst of tears and a loud cry that pierced the ears. A whole hour this continued.
Brothers were closer to her size but still strangers when they greeted us at the airport. As an adult this would all cause terror, but to be a toddler with no knowledge or comprehension of the events that had unfolded is unimaginable. As if the past 24 hours weren’t enough, throw a cat into mix as we enter the front door of her strange new home, well now we’ve asked to much.
It didn’t take long to sing her to sleep as we had done each night before since we left the orphanage with her. I fell in bed and cried a few tears myself as the vision of what we seemed to be in for was a sudden reality. I drifted to sleep somewhere between “what am I doing” and “how do we get through this?”
Surprised to this day, I can’t say I remember any tears the next day or the day after or the day after that. (Except over the cat and dog that decided to go exploring into her bed room and jump on her bed before we were able to properly introduce her. But once again, that just asked too much.)
Memory, one after another, of laughter with her “brat’ya.” (Brothers in Russian.) She embraced what was placed before her and adapted as necessary. Even the evil guy called Dad became a source of protection and fun as she observed from her brothers that he was acceptable.
Fast forward and now, at 15, enough hugs can’t be given even by the combined efforts of Dave and I. Even after being grounded for reasons I shall not disclose, she stops me in the kitchen and said, “I love you, thanks for being my mom.”
She could focus on the void that adoption can reveal, agonize over pieces of life that may never be discovered or become lost in the “what ifs” that flood the mind.
Gratefulness instead is her focus, pride is her response when people don’t believe she isn’t my biological child and faith is her foundation that God has a better plan when He strips us of all that is comfortable.
I want to be like her when I grow up!