It has been a couple months full of anniversaries for this family!
And Now, this week our third significant adoption anniversary: The Day She Arrived Home.
March 9th will be one year since that day. I will never forget it.
The trip home was an experience straight from the twilight zone. The sweet girl I had come to know over the preceding weeks was replaced by a creature that resembled something like a rabid, angry, caged animal. The first flight especially was incredibly traumatic, and I spent those hours restraining Vi in her seat as she hit, bit, scratched and clawed at me. When we got off the plane my arms were red and raw, even bleeding in a few spots. I was shaking. Crying. Terrified for our second, and much longer, flight.
Fortunately, just the right people were there at just the right time and that flight was pretty smooth.
By the third and final flight, my poor girl was functioning on about 3 hours of sleep, every sight, sound and smell was new and scary, and she simply could not process what was happening. To say she came unglued (again) would be the understatement of a lifetime.
I remember holding her like a baby, as tightly as a could, rocking us both as hard and fast as possible, counting the minutes and seconds until that flight would land. I remember the flight attendant telling me there was turbulence and I had to buckle her in to her own seat. I cried. I can’t, I tried to explain, she will lose it. I was told in no uncertain terms….”Too bad.” I cried, trying to comfort my panic-stricken beyond-exhausted child as I buckled her in for our bumpy landing.
I remember trying to get our little Vi off that final plane. I remember her falling in to the first seat she spotted inside the airport and REFUSING to move. I remember a very kindly airline pilot taking pity on me. We must have been quite a sight by then, both of us sobbing in the airport, dirty, disheveled with one yelling in Russian and one pleading in English. He brought us a wheelchair, and walked with us until finally. Finally. My two older boys came in to sight to greet us. My husband had gone to see if we were at baggage claim or something, but quickly returned.
Vi greeted them with barely a smile. She was asleep in her car seat before we left the parking lot.
It was a long journey home. It was mentally, physically and spiritually exhausting. It was the beginning of many long and draining days as we tried to figure out what our “new normal” was when, in fact, there was no “normal” because we were preparing to send Daddy off for Deployment #3. The months that followed were full.
Full of beauty. Full of pain.
Full of growth. Full of understanding and misunderstanding.
Full of tears. Full of hugs.
Full of silly semi-Russian-semi-English words. Full of learning.
Full of loss. Full of discovery.
Full of moments, minutes, hours, days and weeks learning What Love and Commitment really mean when a precious, loving….but traumatized and frightened child comes in to your home.
Full of Strangers becoming Family.
My sister in law says adoption ought to be likened less to a birth and more to an arranged marriage.
Having lived through this year, I would have to say I agree with her.
It is incredibly complex. Total strangers thrown together with nothing in common except a piece of paper and a desire to become a family. Having to learn everything there is to know about this tiny person, who already has fully formed likes, dislikes, ideas, opinions and memories. So. Many. Memories. That form how they see the world, how they react to their environment, how they cope with obstacles.
Oh, and they can’t explain anything going on inside their heart and mind because by the way, you don’t speak the same language.
Yes. It is as hard as it sounds. Probably harder, actually, then you are imagining right now.
But most things worth doing take effort. Most rewarding, beautiful, miraculous things do not come to us because we sit back and do nothing. My heart has been broken over the past twelve months in more ways than I can say.
Now….it has been mended again, into something more wonderful than before.
We have all grown this year, in ways that we could not have comprehended when we set down this path. I am amazed, and grateful, and so very blessed to be the mother of these five incredible human beings.
I’d like to ask each one of you to watch this video and just….try not to cry.
On second thought. Let yourselves cry.
This is our year. Vi’s first year at home, with her family.
We have been through so much since that first terrifying plane ride. We have overcome and discovered and persevered. And it was so very worth the journey. Every step I would walk all over again, to have this incredible person in our lives. I hope (and I think) she feels the same way about us.
What do you think?
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