And then I Held Her Hand

We ate lunch and I felt like I was floating. I seriously couldn’t stop smiling. I ordered creme brulee after my meal because it just felt like we should be celebrating. Celebrating life. Celebrating growth. Celebrating a beloved daughter.

Our attendant walked with us to the notary, where we signed forms that gave us permission to take photos and videos of Lovebug and then we walked through a little local grocery. I love seeing international grocery stores, it gives a special glimpse into culture to see where people buy their food. And what kinds of food they buy. (I bought some peanut M&Ms.)

We meandered back towards the hotel, taking pictures of the small(ish) town where our girl was born. The sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot and we had plans to meet Love and her foster mom and her social worker at the park after her nap.

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At 3:30, we met the social worker in front of our hotel, and she walked us over to the park for our meeting. Doodlebug was thrilled because the park had lots of American Ninja Warrior-esque equipment. He immediately got to work on training :)

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Pretty soon a kinda grumpy little girl was pushed up in her stroller. Her foster mom said she had to be woken up early from her nap for our meeting. Poor baby girl! The psychologist was back and she released Lovebug from her stroller and walked her around the park by her hands again. She seemed to cheer up walking around. Pretty soon, she was passed over to me. We walked, I held her. Andrew walked her, he held her. We watched Doodlebug do his ninja warrior stuff on the playground.

At one point, I thought Love would like to slide. I carried her over and began to lean down to place her on the slide. She wrapped her arms and legs around me and squeezed so tightly. It was such a sweet little hug. There were several times when I was holding her that I had this impulse to make a run for it. That might sound crazy to you, but after waiting so long and knowing at the end of the week I would leave this sweet baby and board a plane home with empty arms, I wanted to make a break and just run away with her. Of course, I wouldn’t have made it far and that would have been frowned upon by the authorities.

We fed her a snack of yogurt. (This girl eats all day long, I love it! Bring on the chub!)

We snapped pictures on both our phones and videoed her walking around with us. It was so awesome just to be spending time with our little girl (finally!). At one point, I was walking behind Lovebug holding both of her hands (her preferred way to walk– she goes super fast that way since she feels steady!) and Andrew was “chasing” her to tickle her. Oh my goodness– the beautiful giggles that were coming out! She was laughing to hard when he would catch up to her, that she would lose her balance and kinda drop to her knees. It was really fun.

Our attendant told us later that during this meeting the foster mom and social worker began referring to us as “Mommy” and “Daddy” to Lovebug. I guess we passed their inspection during the morning meeting and they figured we were gonna be okay parents for this sweet girl!

There was this interesting statue at the park and Doodlebug and Lovebug’s foster brother, decided it was their “clubhouse” and they crawled all over it. It was really fun having Lovebug’s foster brother around for Doodle. They bonded instantly and had a great time playing all week together!

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Sadly, our two hours flew by and we had to say goodbye again. I knew Lovebug was tired though, we had played so hard! (Her foster mother told us the next morning that she fell asleep while her hair was being dried after her bath because she was so tired!)

And then I Saw Her Face

Truly, I am overly sentimental. I think deeply about things, and cherish the moments right before changes happen. I like to note how I feel right before something big happens, savoring the butterflies fluttering around my insides. And the butterflies were going crazy that morning!

That day, I showered, dressed, ate breakfast in the hotel resturant and found myself with extra minutes. (Strange, I never have extra minutes!) I sat on the unmade bed to think and pray and I hastily scribbled in my journal about how eight years previously I had been waiting to meet my first daughter, and now I was awaiting my first introduction to my second. I could hardly steady my hand to write for all the butterfly migration happening between my liver and my lungs, so I left off the thought with a …

Finally, it was time to head downstairs. Our attendant suggested we have our meeting at the outside terrace of the hotel, so we picked out a table and sat down. She was explaining what we should expect of the first meeting. All of a sudden, she was gazing outside of the hotel cafe and time slowed considerably. Was this it? Oh my goodness, this is it! I took a deep breath, exhaling my nerves. This was it. This group of people moving our direction represent a moment I have been waiting over four years for. This is what it feels like for your life to change in an instant.

A little face was peering at us from the stroller, and I bent down to say hello to my daughter. Her foster father said something to her and she began to giggle. I didn’t want to overwhelm her, so I backed up to my chair as everyone took places around the table and we were introduced to Lovebug’s entourage. The foster parents, the foster brother, the social worker, the psychologist. Small talk was exchanged and I kept sneaking peeks at the sweet little face as the conversation swirled around us in two languages.

The psychologist began to walk Lovebug around holding her hands, so she could explore. I focused my attention on the questions about us, and then we were invited to ask whatever we wanted. I searched the depths of my brain trying to recall what I was supposed to ask. What would Lovebug ask one day, that I would want to have an answer for? What did the adoption books say to ask? What had I read about gaining good information about your child? I had nothing.

I didn’t realize it but the psychologist had walked Love up behind me, and before I could react, she plopped my daughter into my lap. Lovebug squirmed for just a moment when she realized she didn’t know me. I offered over the dolly we had brought her as well as a play bottle and a musical mirror. She relaxed against me as she began to explore the spoils I held.

Her hair smelled like magic. Pure baby magic.

Her chubby hands worked over the surface of the mirror, and I was thankful to feel how solid her little body was. Her foster mom began handing her chunks of chocolate bread and I realized with a smile how she is so chubby. :)

The schedule for the week was discussed, among other things, I really have no clue. Because I was holding and smelling and kissing and enjoying my baby girl. After four long years, dreams were being birthed into reality.

I got up to walk Lovebug around. She grabbed my hands and began walking (maybe it was more of a chubby baby jog– she is FAST!) and she was saying something over and over. The attendant with us told me she was saying, “Come on! Come on!” and my heart melted like a Popsicle on the 4th of July. Because Baby Girl, I would walk forever behind you, holding your dimpled hands and laughing at your sweet little voice.

Soup was ordered for Lovebug’s lunch about noon, and she sat on my lap while I fed her a gruel of soup and bread. She ate like a champ (thighs like what!) and began to fuss when she realized her portion was finished. I reluctantly handed her back over to her foster mom and said good-bye…

 

 

Throwback Thursday

I thought I’d dish up a little post and throw it back to October when I last posted– in the middle of the 30 Days blogging challenge I didn’t finish. Oops.

I attended a homeschool conference (BY. MYSELF. GLORY.) in mid-October and it was exactly the encouragement and push I needed. I had been schooling Ladybug and Stinkbug for a few months at that point and it still felt like a crazy juggling game to jump from Kindergarten reading to Second Grade math and back and forth and leap frog all over the curriculum map. I was exhausted and felt like I had no idea what I was doing. (So much for that $26,000 degree in Elementary Ed, I guess!)

I really needed to hear those speakers tell me to major on the majors and minor in the minors. Get the reading and the math done and it’s OK if that’s all we get to in a day. Relax and enjoy these moments with my little ones. I am thankful for that week, I came back with fresh perspective in my heart and Jenga in my bag for the kids. :)

Every year I feel like I’m on a roller coaster in October– click, click, clicking to the top and then WOOOOOOOOSH it’s holidays and busy times and visitors and cold weather and before I know it, I’m packing Christmas ornaments between layers of paper towels to be stacked in our tiny little apartment closet.

Even now, I think I forgot to get off the ride because HOW IN THE WORLD IS IT APRIL 9TH?!

Our attentions have been pretty adoption focused so far in 2015, as we glimpsed a new sweet face on our agency’s waiting child list in December and we were unofficially matched with a sweet little girl in eastern Europe! We’ve updated our homestudy and our USCIS clearance and waiting, waiting, waiting to hear that we are finally able to go and meet her! On February 4 we hit four years since we said yes in our hearts to this journey, so it feels amazing (and also agonizing!) to feel like the end is coming.

Well, that’s about it for life from October until now– home school, holidays, adoption, cooking food for my kids to complain about, and always… mountains of laundry.

Dear Tummy // Letters Day 16

Dear Tummy,
You need to shape up! I mean that literally and figuratively, I’d love you to flatten down and get some definition, but right now I mostly mean that I have one more day at an all-inclusive resort for this conference and I’d like to eat, drink (Pepsi with flavored syrup added, yum!), and be merry. Instead you have me sitting, laying under the covers, and sipping only Sprite. Boo. Let’s get our act together, shall we?

Thanks a ton,
Sheila

Dear My Babies in Heaven // Letters Day 15

Dear My Babies in Heaven,
My miscarriages were some of the most painful moments of my life– desiring so badly to give you life and being unable to do anything except bleed and cry, feeling helpless. I ached for you then and that dull ache of loss remains a part of me as long as I am in this broken body.

I don’t know why I wasn’t able to hold you, but through my losses I took such comfort in Deuteronomy 29:29– the secret things belong to The Lord. Tucked inside my womb for only a few short weeks, you two were my secret things. Your tiny little bodies almost invisible to the human eye, but eternally significant to the Creator of life. To trust that you belonged to The Lord brought me unspeakable peace. He saw you, He knew you, He cared for you because He created you.

I’m sorry I could never hold your hand or kiss your face or tickle your tummy. Please know I loved you, I loved you from the very moment I knew you were there. Your days, although few, were marked with smiles and plans for the future and anticipation and joy.

I don’t pretend to know how heaven will work when I get there, but I hope I can glimpse your sweet faces there as we worship our risen Savior– the one who will wipe every tear from our eyes and will fully redeem that which was broken and lost here on earth.

I love you to the moon and back,
Mommy

Dear Quiet Hotel Room // Letters Day 14

Dear Quiet Hotel Room,
You know that scene in Date Night when Tina Fey is flipping out to her husband (Steve Carrell) and she says she just wants to be alone in a quiet hotel room with no one touching her drinking her Diet Sprite and eating her lunch in peace?

Yes, that is currently happening for me, and I’m so happy to be getting to know you. Except my Sprite tonight was not diet and had strawberry syrup in it, which yes, I realize is probably chock-full of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Deeeelicious.

You are exactly as great as Tina made you sound… So quiet. So clean. So peaceful. So quiet. (Wait, did I say quiet twice? That’s because it is REALLY quiet.)

Thankful we’re together this week,
Sheila