One year ago today we got “the call”. It was the referral call that we had been waiting for from our agency since we had turned in our the first few documents 21 months earlier (plus our dossier ten months later in Nov ’13). Yes, this was the day we were referred Lucy’s file and saw her for the very first time! Getting that call was sooooooo huge in so many ways! We had had a terrible time earlier that day. Somehow USCIS managed to schedule Chuck, myself and our nanny for three different days that week for our fingerprinting appointments (don’t even ask me why fingerprints “expire” as this was our second time having to get this done). So, after talking to some adoptive friends and our agency, we thought it should be OK if we instead all went in at the time that the first appointment was scheduled. But no. Long story short: the local office was less than welcoming and so we drove the hour back with me on the phone with our agency trying to understand what I needed to do next to get the appointments rescheduled and this time for them all to be at the same time.
But I digress. All of that “pain” was completely wiped away the minute our phone rang around 5pm that day. I could see “CCAI” on the caller ID and immediately my pulse must have doubled. (And honestly, the trouble that we had with the fingerprinting office is SO NOTHING compared to what Lucy endured living at an orphanage for nearly two years of her life. Yes, there are so many hard things about the paper chase and the adoption process, but ALL of them pale in comparison to what our precious children go through in those early months. Trauma from never hearing their birth momma’s voice again. Trauma from however they are abandoned. Trauma from however they are treated in an orphanage. Trauma if they are moved to another orphanage. Trauma from a possible surgery in a hospital. Trauma from possibly being moved into a foster home. Trauma from being adopted albeit by loving parents. Trauma from leaving the only sights, sounds, and food they have known — of their homeland. Trauma from a language lost and a new one started. Trauma from all that is so very different in the U.S. Etc…) Within 10 minutes Chuck and I were staring at this picture (& a few more) of this beautiful little girl on my phone.
This sweet thing who was on the other side of the world, in a city we had never heard of, in a province our agency had specifically partnered with several years ago because of its poverty level and lack of adoptions theretofore. So, that night we forwarded her file on to the University of Chicago’s International Adoption Clinic and began praying for this little one who now, finally, had the sweetest face to go along with all the prayers that we (& so many others) had already lifted up on her behalf. Five days later, on Halloween 2014, we reviewed her file with the lead doctor at the IAC, prayed and emailed our agency confirming that we would count ourselves privileged to adopt her as our daughter. So, while others typically just think of candy and costumes on Halloween, it will forever have a special place in our hearts as the day we knew Lucy was to become part of our forever family.
Now a year has passed. Lucy has been with us for nearly nine months. It boggles my mind how much she has grown in language, bonding and skills during that time. She went from knowing only three words in Mandarin to now being able to say phrases like:
- I two and half! (when you ask her how old she is)
- Mommy stay here! (when I have to go downstairs to work…UGH)
- One more big block! (when building with the speech therapist)
Really there isn’t anything Lucy won’t try to say. BUT…that doesn’t mean you will understand her, sadly. She still has quite a journey for her speech, but it is such a blessing that she tries. I am truly amazed at her perseverance with the speech therapist and the amount of attention she gives her when she is only 2 years and 8 mos right now. She tries and she tries. BLESS. HER. HEART.
Recently I was playing with Lucy and had found an old toy in the basement that had been put away for a couple years. I decided to bring it out for Lucy. Sure enough, she figured out how to do it right away.
Watching her play I was moved to tears. I thought about her birth mother and my heart was filled with sadness for her – she will likely never know what an intelligent, spunky and fun daughter she had. How she has amazing fine motor skills. How she loves every craft project and wants to color continuously. How she would eat about 100 sheets of dried seaweed at a time if we let her! How she loves identifying letters and shapes (stars and hearts are her favorites – and she will stop in her gymnastics class to point out the different shapes on the wall to me). How she always wants her hair done with a clip or piggy tails or whatever, but then only leaves said “do” in for an average length of five minutes. And how she doesn’t care that she’s little – this girl still wants to get the ball in the hoop just like her big brother.
Oh, the joy she adds to our family. The way she and Audrey play dolls together and push their little strollers around the house…or giggle at night in their beds when they are supposed to be going to sleep. The way she wants to pray with her own words at meal times and bed times (melts this momma’s heart!!). And how she wants to run over to Henry’s room to give her brother yet another kiss good night. Yes, she exhausts us old parents too – but we wouldn’t trade that for the world. No, it has not been all sunshine and roses. Certainly not. Lucy will disobey me far more than her daddy and sometimes it will take at least an hour for me to get her to go to bed (making for VERY long days when Chuck is on the road…which has been a LOT lately). Lucy hit Henry in the back with a toy just a couple days ago – hard. Yes, Lucy still has a LOT to learn about sharing. And then there are all the unanswered medical questions (she has several appointments coming up soon). Will her wandering eyes be OK? Does she have a mal-absorption issue and is that the cause of her limited growth? Is her palate long enough to be able to make all the sounds she needs to make? (she will have a minimum of two more lip/palate surgeries in her future due to the fact that she was born with a cleft lip & palate and likely she will also need more ear tubes put in as she grows) But we believe that we are in good hands with the doctors we have been led to and we keep all of this in our prayers, trusting that answers will come in time and all of this will be sorted out. Lucy did have her appointment with the pediatric orthopedist a bit ago and that went well. The doctor thinks Lucy’s feet should straighten out as she continues to be active and the X-ray they took showed that Lucy’s hips are just fine. It also showed good growth plates around her hips, knees and ankles which told the doctor there is no skeletal reason for her minimal growth. So, we continue to be very thankful for answered prayers and leave you with these fabulous smiles that we have fallen in love with a thousand times over.