Go here for PART ONE.
Go here for PART TWO.
Go here for PART THREE.
Go here for PART FOUR.
Our journey to being matched with our daughter had resulted in fulfilling confirmations of our decision to move forward. We shared the news to everyone we could think of and sometimes just sat dreamily with smiles on our faces while we felt the love in our hearts grow for our daughter.
I mentioned previously the "compressed air" feeling of my emotions toward her, but my man described it perfectly (and hilariously) during the days immediately after our announcement. "I feel like the Grinch at the end of the movie when his heart starts pounding and his emotions knock him on his rear."
It starts about at about 1 minute 30 seconds in this clip.
Oh how I love my Grinch.
I was recently reconnected with an old high school friend who is adopting from China and was just matched with her daughter as well. We have exchanged some emails and she told me that she found out the meaning of her daughter's Chinese name. I realized that I had never even thought to ask about the meaning of our daughter's name, so I wrote to the person at our agency who is Chinese by birth and fluent in Mandarin to ask her to translate for me.
"Rough and tumble", "stands with a fist", or "takes no crap from brothers" would have been perfectly appropriate translations and would have made me confident that she will fit in around here just fine.
But the reply I received was more perfect than anything I could have made up.
Her Chinese name means "In the light of winter".
Seriously, if you've been around for very long on this blog, you know that we live in (what feels like) eternal winter. Our summers feel like other regions' winters. In fact, we don't really put out winter clothes away, we just take some shorts and t-shirts out to add to the mix. We smiled when we realized that our sweetie was made for winter.
Predictably, the cold weather and snow started to blow into our mountain town and in the coming weeks, I had the chore of changing out everyone's summer and winter clothes (well, really just putting away shorts and sandals), including my own.
I came across a treasure that I received nearly 15 years ago to the day. My dear friend Karen and I met early in our freshman year of college and have always been close. On the outside, Karen and I can appear quite different. She like bare feet, I like shoes to protect my soles. She likes big cities, adventures, and risks into the unknown. Me, I like small towns, well planned out trips, and certainly knowing what I'm getting into.
On the inside, Karen and I are quite similar and where we differ, we very much compliment each other. We have shared many cups of coffee
and bottles beer over the years sharing our dreams, passions, and lots of laughter. I am so thankful that we have not lost touch in the 15+ years since we graduated from college and I'm sure that we will still be calling each other in 25 years to share laughter over the births of our grandchildren and sorrows over the loss of loved ones.
When we graduated from college, Karen chose to spend two years in the Peace Corps. I remember being in the campus library when she came bounding in to tell me where she had been assigned.
And she did. She spent two years in China at the foothills of the Himalayas teaching English to Chinese high school students. Although my kids find it hard to believe, we didn't have email during those days, so Karen and I were faithful pen pals across that tremendous ocean. In the fall of 1996, she mailed me a beautiful piece of artwork from her new home.
This beautiful scroll is a wall hanging that I have kept with me for 15 years. I have moved it many times from one home to the next, and always had it tucked in a safe place. In fact, my husband (the de-clutter freak) has suggested many times that I get rid of it because I've never had quite the right place to hang it. I refused every time, saying that I didn't care if we never hung it up, I would keep it until my dying day because it was dear to me.
Little did I know how dear it really was.
As I was taking out my sweaters and putting away my shorts, I saw the scroll peeking out from the open bin from underneath my bed. I have looked at it many times in 15 years, but this time I had new eyes to see it with.
The pink flowers and Chinese writing instantly made it the perfect centerpiece for Mrs. Nesbit's bedroom. I was excited to bring it out and start planning her room around this precious keepsake.
But it gets better.
I have never detached the note that Karen sent with her gift. I have read this note so many times, but again, with new eyes, I was able to see that God had planned this perfectly.
"October 24, 1996. Laurie, I like to think of a piece of China hanging on your soon-to-be own apartment wall next to your photographs from all over the world. The words at the top are a poem that talk about a man who is far away from home that misses his friends and family. I cannot begin to express how much I long to have you near. Think of how much I love you when you glance at the plum blossom. My friend described this winter flower as 'the one that comes out when the others go away.' Always near you, Karen"
Immediately, my eyes filled with tears as the goose bumps formed on my arms. In all the times I have read this note simply to feel close to my dear friend who has since lived far away from me, never did I dream that the note spoke of my daughter!
Joya will suffer grief in some form as a girl stretched between two continents. Her love and loyalties will be challenged and distributed. Although right now, she is lucky enough to be in a loving foster home from just days after she was found, the painful part of that is that she has no idea that she is an orphan.
When she is placed into our arms in a few months, she will not feel relief that she finally has a family. She will justifiably feel confused and angry and ripped from the only family she has known. The family she loves.
But we will wait for our little plum blossom to show herself. We know that she is the winter flower that will blossom with us when the others go away. We will patiently endure her emotions through the transition and growth into connection with her new family.
Her forever family. Our family.