As we walked along the paths to the play yard, in search of our daughter, it was never far from our minds that this was our last day with her. Her groupa was already headed outside, but once we caught up with them and called her name, a moment unfolded that I hope to never forget.
We called her name, she turned, spotted us and her face lit up like the sun itself. Her whole entire countenance changed as she began running toward us. As soon as I saw her face shining, I got down on her level and received her into my embrace. My heart was full.
Our play time together was just like any other day, but we were treasuring every moment. I felt like Mary in Luke 2:19:
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
As we played, it was clear she had learned over the days to anticipate our every move. She would get to the top of the slide and wait, slightly lifting her arms, expecting one of us to come up behind her, slipping our arms under hers, enfold her into our embrace, count to three in Russian and then slide down in glee.
When we would begin to climb the stairs, one of her hands used the rail, the other stuck out in anticipation of the filling with our bigger, stronger one to help her up.
She would sit on the swing side-ways and quietly listened as I told her of her new family and sung to her. Sometimes she’d enter her own musical humming alongside mine, usually clinging to a flower her Daddy had given. As she would relax, she’d forget to hold onto the swing and we’d have to quickly catch her and start the whole process over again!
Sitting down to eat our daily banana treat, she would shove the whole piece in and patiently wait for the next one. I had to learn to make the sizes smaller so she didn’t choke. Once the banana had quickly reached its end, she would then begin to explore Mommy’s purse for activities I’d brought. Stickers seemed to be her favorite. She learned quickly from her Daddy the game of putting them all over her body. Eventually they found their way to the paper!
All too soon, her groupa was on their way back in for lunch and had come to collect our daughter. As she realized what was happening, she began to flail and cry, trying to get down from my arms. Yet as soon as I’d set her down and attempt to take her hand, she would begin to run away back to the playground. She didn’t want our time to end anymore than we did. I finally caught her back up into my arms and whispered comforting words in Russian to her as tears began to fall down my own face. This was heart-wrenching! This was so hard!
As we reached her room, we each gave her one last hug. I told her all of the things in English that I had been speaking over her all week. I reminded her that we would be back for her. We double checked that her caregivers would continue to read her family book to her each day. And then she silently assimilated back into her groupa and I went off to the side to have a good cry. How am I going to make it through the next 6 weeks?
I know I’ll make it, but more than anything my heart aches for my daughter on Saturday morning when she anticipates our arrival and we do not come. Please pray for her. Even now, I cannot type this without getting choked up. Pray that she can somehow understand that we will come back for her even when it feels like forever. Pray that she will be like a sponge and take in our family book, ready for her family when we return. Pray for my mother’s heart.
As my friend, Anne, reminds me. This is was not “goodbye.” It is merely “see you later.”
I now take off my adoption hat, tucking my daughter into my heart, and put on my anti-trafficking hat for the next part of our journey here in Eastern Europe. I cannot wait to see how this will unfold and I certainly can’t wait to share this part of my heart with you.