Words can't even describe what all has happened since you entered our life. Where do I start? How do I begin? When people ask me how you are doing, or how I am doing, or to tell me about the trip to meet you in China...I stumble over my words. Your story is so much more than just words.
October 17th...nothing could have prepared me for that moment. The pit in my stomach, my heart beating out of my chest, my trembling hands, the buzz of a foreign language ringing all around me, and I sat waiting. I tried to soak it all in. Everything led up to this moment. I loved you, I yearned to hold you finally in my arms....and never let you go. I knew you were in the other room, on the other side of that curtain...and I sat waiting. Before I know it, I hear my name. And within seconds, I had knelt down on the ground overcome by the thought of you coming through that curtain.
And then...you were there. Suddenly, the picture I had stared at for months was alive. Your caregiver, Sean, carried you into the room, with the orphanage director at his side. Your eyes glanced across the room, gazing at each person...and then our eyes met.
Terrified...sweet girl, you were terrified. My flood of tears from seeing you for the first time ceased as I quickly knew my emotions could be scaring you more. On my knees, I reached for you. My daughter...I reached for you. "I love you, Ri." "Mommy loves you."
The orphanage director quickly pulled out the book of pictures that we had sent you. We started showing you...."Mama" "Baba." You were overcome with fear and sadness. "I love you Ri, Mommy loves you." Then I did only what I knew I could do...I held you, I rocked and swayed you, I made a shushing sound in your ear, just like I did with my newborn sons. And I prayed.
I didn't know it was possible to feel so much love and relief and joy while all at the same time, feeling so much heartbreak and helplessness.
I wanted to be able to ask Sean questions about your care, your needs, how to soothe you. I wanted to ask about your living conditions...to tell me where you had been living. But the tears and emotions were just too much. I asked a few questions and then Sean and I decided it was best for him to leave.
They gave me a journal with your schedule, a flashdrive of priceless pictures and videos of you, a sweet panda backpack, bottle, formula and diapers. I was very lucky that for the two weeks I was in China, my guide was able to help me communicate with your foster home when I had questions.
And, so our journey began. After hours of tears and heartache, your body finally gave in, your soul finally softened, and you fell asleep on me. We rode back to our hotel and I rocked you and played soft Chinese nursery rhymes. I looked at each finger, each sweet toe, I found your first freckle on her head, I ran my fingers across the soft scar down your chest. I pushed your long sweaty bangs out of your eyes. "I love you Ri" "Mommy loves you." I examined the scratches on your face, I gazed at your dark eyes and long eyelashes. "Momma, Momma" I would say.
And our journey continued. Some days we danced through, other days we crawled. Some nights we were covered in peace, and other nights we were helpless and cried through the wee hours of the night. You were scared. In time, you trusted me enough to take your first steps. In time, you felt safe enough that you let me put you in a stroller. Just like a newborn, some nights you could go an hour of sleeping, other nights 3 hours.
I can't imagine what was going through your mind. The sights, the sounds, the smells, all new.
China was anything but easy...but in everyway one of the hardest but greatest weeks of my life. I wanted you to love me. I wanted to be able to soothe you. I wanted to take away your fear. I wanted you to know I would never leave you.
How do you show someone that? You just keep loving them. Slowly that love soothes your little heart, and you trust me. I am your safe place. By the end of the trip in China, you knew I loved you. You clung to me. My heart could explode, but that is just the first step. The journey now, was showing you, I will not leave you. I am your mommy, this is your family. I will not leave you.
So today sweet girl, I looked at my daughter, on her first birthday home, and I am still overcome with emotions. I still can't put into words the past 3 months. Just like in China, some days we dance, and some days we crawl. But, one thing is certain, I am a better person because of you. God has taken my weak heart to a deeper level of love and trust then I have ever had before. You are perfect. You are my daughter. You are loved.
And one day sweet girl, you will see just how much not only we love you, but how much our Father in heaven loves you. He knew you before you were formed. He created your innermost being. He has never left you, and He will never leave you.
I love you Morrissey Ri. Mommy loves you. Happy 2nd birthday Princess.