Sleep deprived. Smelling a little like vomit. Old clothes. Traveling for over thirty hours. We stumbled through the breezeway into our small hometown airport. I took a deep breath of mountain air. My shoulders sagged in exhaustion on this rainy, cold March day. Glancing at my husband we waited one more time. Two familiar faces greeted us as we retrieved the stroller we had gate-checked. Two friends of my sisters. Dressed in heavy jackets and a strip of bright green reflective gear. They had stepped off the runaway to get a glimpse of our new baby in “real life.” We smile a tired hello. My heart began to race when I realized: I’m home.
Somewhere upstairs near the baggage claim my other babies waited. My body ached from traveling, but even more my arms ached to hold them again. I struggled with our carry-ons as we walk one flight of stairs. My husband and I shared an excited smile, anxious to round the corner through the security check point.
I ran to them then. Dropping down on my knees, they encircled me with their arms. Home again. A family together. I sobbed.
“Hi!” They said to her. Their new sister. The one they would accept from this moment on. Completely and totally. She looked on the verge of tears. New people. New smells. New sights. As I watched them, I heard their hearts ask the unspoken question: Who are you?
For a year we’ve asked that of our sweet China-girl. Who are you? For 365 days. I’ve processed so much these past few days just thinking back to last year. Writing the letter (and this one) was a balm to my soul. Adoption is a different thing now. On the other side of being home. The waiting. The paperwork. The waiting. The checklists and state seals. Oh, and the waiting….it all was a season. Today, we celebrate something different. Our daughter. Fitting more and more into our family. 365 days later.
Love grew in these 365 days because we were intentional, yes. And we let go of fear. Love also grew as we got to know her. Before March 2015, she was only a picture. A few pages of medical forms. Having her home. In my arms. Everyday. It changes things. It has changed me. And her.
As we walked through the airport security and saw our other babies, I knew our journey wasn’t over. It was just the beginning. In this year, we’ve learned so much about her. Our family has molded around her. I would be lying if she “fit” right away. I know that sounds harsh, but its true. We’ve had to get to know her, and she’s had to get to know us. It was hard, but a year later – – it fits. She fits. She belongs. Totally and completely. Can we answer the question: Who are you? completely….
Not yet. I don’t think. But let me tell you, I’ve learned a lot about her in the 52 weeks she’s been home.
likes loves to eat.
She loves Tinkerbell (and princesses in general).
She is SUPER smart!
Her hair grows slowly.
Music is her favorite.
She doesn’t like Chickfila chicken.
She doesn’t like the sea witch on the Little Mermaid.
She loves to rock at night.
Sh has a special blanket and a favorite panda bear.
She prefers daddy, but mommy is a close second.
Her favorite sibling varies.
And so much more. We missed two years, but we get the rest. The rest of her life she will be loved.
Happy Forever Family Day, my sweet Liana Joy Manhua.
January 2016 (Loves the movie “Inside Out.”)
Happy Chinese New Year! 2016 The Year of the Monkey!
Forever Family Day 2016
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