I want to tell you a story about a little girl, a fighter, a daughter, a sister...
It was freezing cold in Luohe as we were standing in the civil affairs office waiting on Everly. She was one of the last vans to get there. We watched all of these other families getting their babies. Some of the babies were crying, some were in shock and others reached for their parents as if to say, "Hey! I have been waiting on you!!" It is such a precious thing to see. Families that are normally brought to light in the most intimate atmospheres are formed today in front of an audience of 24. It was loud, cold and emotional. Everly's van pulled up and we knew she was in there. All of the other babies had arrived and been placed. It was just our family and another family that were waiting at this point.
I couldn't believe that this was it. This is what we had been waiting on for a year. In about 2 seconds we were going to see her right in front of us.
I saw her red coat and recognized it from the care package we sent.
first Everly sighting...
Yep. That was her.
She was with a nanny and another gentleman from the orphanage. As she looked at the daunting steps in front of her, she turned back around as if to head for the van. Her nanny talked to her and she put one foot in front of the other and moved forward. Courage.
She got halfway up the steps and I couldn't stand it anymore. I met her where she was. She immediately got frightened and turned to her nanny and buried her head in her jacket. The nanny explained I was Mama and to hold my hand. I reached for her. And she looked at me, eyes so soulful and terrified. She took my hand. Her sweet hand was so cold and so sweaty at the same time. Trembling, she held it. And we walked up the stairs together. As soon as she got inside the building she went.... wild. Walking quickly and we lost sight of her immediately. She was going family to family, her eyes were wild and she was just completely overwhelmed.
We took very few pictures that day. And very few pictures of our time in China.
We didn't leave the hotel room unless we had paperwork to do. Smells nauseated her, the busyness confused her, the wind made her drop to her knees. She did better in the hotel room. It was a controlled environment. She learned a bit about us and we learned a bit about her.
That was 2 months ago.
Fast forward to today. My girl starts school Wednesday. She is so excited. She told our guide in China that she wanted two things in America. 1. To go to school. 2. To have long hair.
We have her book bag packed already. Got school supplies today. Lunchbox on the counter.
But what has really happened in those 2 months??
Our first few weeks were spent at home. Luckily the kids had Christmas break and we were all home together. What a gift!!
It was day in and day out people in your face. The smells were all to nauseating to her once again. The seizures were coming every few days. She was up wandering at 3 in the morning. She was still on China time. I made one to many calls to my Katie for mandarin help. Everly was so unsure of everything around her. She was constantly on the defense, constantly looking over her shoulder and trusting no one. She was angry.
So day in and day out it was the same routine. Every once in a while we would venture out to a store and more times than not we had to leave to come home.
There were many behaviors that needed correcting, learned behaviors that were so normal for her.
She had NO idea what family was. No idea that we would be with her for the rest of her life. She had no idea what any of this meant.
Just thinking about it now makes me so sad for her. Sad for those kids that will never know what a family is.
Little by little she is learning to trust. Little by little she is blossoming.
I cannot believe how far she has come.
She has so much courage in that little body of hers. I think about where we were two months ago and I just cannot believe it. Some of you I called and poured my heart out to while in China. And you helped me more than words can ever say. Dinners that were delivered to our house were a blessing beyond words. There was no way I could have fed my family in those early days. It was all we could do to survive. Justine came to my house to cut my shaggy hair, and it was a good thing. It forced me to take a shower and do something with myself. My sweet Seattle friend that sent bedrails and my CA friend that sent cookie butter. There are no words. The support system we have is hands down the best.
Thank you to everyone that loved on our family. There is really no way to thank you fully. And to that special one that left a bottle of wine at my door step.... bless you. ;)
Everly. She is a treasure. She is so girly girl. She loves Barbies and bracelets and hair clips. She is such a sweet child. Random kisses and the tightest hugs. She loves to dance and sing.
I love to see the confidence she gains each day. She is holding her head higher. She was once a child that had no idea how to engage in a hug or be held. I had my moment of the year in the Target parking lot when she wrapped her legs around me when I picked her up. Yes, I cried.
Now my girl is going to school. I feel like we just got her. There was a time when I didn't think we would make it. That I wouldn't make it. That somehow all of this wouldn't fit.
But it fits so perfectly.
As I type this, Everly and Norah are sleeping side by side and I hear these little giggles every once in a while. Everly is a sister. She has an older brother that is so protective and loving to her. She has a little brother that rejoices with her when she learns a new word.
She is a daughter. Her dad is smitten, gonner, done. He is so gentle with her and I am telling ya. Seeing him with his kids... oh man.
I am so thankful she is ours. I am so thankful that we said yes. I am so thankful that God put the lonely in our family. I am so thankful she is giving us a chance and that she has the courage to just be.
She has come so so far. We have come so far.
She is so incredibly worthy.