We were all packed and ready to take the train ride from St. Pete to Moscow. It was to be our trial run traveling with a child we’d known for just 10 days. I was armed with snacks and toys, but I had no idea how she would handle the next 8 hours of juggling from car to train to car to hotel in the middle of the night. She fell asleep on my lap the last 2 hours of our train ride. I spent that time looking at every inch of her. Her perfectly arched eyebrows, her button nose, her bad orphan haircut, and her tiny dimpled hands. It was after 1am when we finally arrived in our hotel room. Our wake up call was for 5:30 because the doctor would come at 6. I laid her in the crib and patted her back. Her breath settled into a steady rhythm and her thumb went in her mouth, but instead of crawling in bed myself, I sat down in the gold chair in the corner and took out my phone. I didn’t care what it cost, I had to express all I was feeling. I texted my friend,
“I studied her hands tonight. There’s so much I don’t know about her.”
That was almost a year and a half ago, but it might as well be lifetime, her lifetime ago. The other night I was talking about a store I hadn’t been to in awhile. I caught myself as I started to say, “The last time I was there was when Sof was a baby”. She was 2 1/2, but still such a baby then.
She likes her clothes to spin. You know, like when she turns around the dress/skirt must fan out. She would like to wear a tutu everyday. She has a drawer full of dancewear, and every morning we have to rediscuss the fact that nothing in that drawer is for everyday wear. She has an opinion about her hair too. Most days she must have her hair like Adrienne’s. She defines girly.
She’s into best friends. If she really digs you she’ll say you’re best friends. She says I love you, but selectly. If she doesn’t feel it, she won’t say it. Even if I prompt her. When she’s done on the phone she always has to kiss and hug it.
She wants to do everything herself. Including pour her own milk. Luckily, she’s pretty good at most self help skills, and the ones she can’t do she keeps trying. Lord help you if you do something for her. She will snap at you like a mouse taking cheese from a mousetrap. She knows how to put her hand on her hip and she’s not afraid to use it.
She remembers getting her bangs cut, and showed me how they do it. She remembers swimming with her doctor. One night she was tidying up her room. She told me it was for her Russia brothers and sisters to come. She tells me she doesn’t like her Russia house.
Recently, she was in the bathtub. She was jabbering away like she always does. I was sitting on the floor playing with my phone, giving the obligatory uhhh humm’s. I heard her say, "Does Aunt Anne like Joni?” I said, “Aunt Anne loves Joni”. She asked, “Why”? I said,
“Because Mommy’s love their babies”
I looked up and our eyes caught. In that moment I realized I can never say that again. I know right now she can’t piece all this together, but I saw the squint of her eyes indicating she was thinking. She was filing that comment somewhere deep in her, to be pulled back out at a later date. My mind fast forwarded to her at different ages asking why her mama didn’t love her. I thought of the possible answers…I’m your mommy and I love you more than the world, she loved you she just couldn’t take care of you, or God wanted me to be your mommy. I was later told by my agency to stick to the facts. Don’t say her birth mother loved her, because that means people can love you and still leave you. Scratch that one. Stick to the facts they say, okay, but I don’t have a lot of them. I believe she will grow into a happy, healthy, confident girl. I believe she will be totally emotionally stable. I also believe she will always have questions and wonderings. She’s too inquisitive not to.
I don’t know how I will answer all her questions. I love her story. I think it makes her more interesting. I hope someday she sees it that way too. For now, she is a package we are opening everyday. Discovering new and wonderful things about our beautiful child.