It is hard to believe that it has been one year since you and I began our forever. I remember so clearly the details of that day. I remember waking from the little sleep I got knowing that today was the day I got to be your mommy in person and not just in dreams or on paper. As the van drove those bumpy 2.5 hours to your orphanage, I prayed for you and for the sadness you would be feeling. I wondered how the next days, weeks and months would be. When we pulled up to the entrance I walked to the directors office. I went thru the formality of “signing you out” of Mashuk Baby House. It had been your home since that day in February 2010. It was the only home in your memory and they cared greatly for you for the past 19 months. You were 23 months old. You spent 19 months there and sadly, you had no possessions. That broke my heart. I walked thru the gardens of the orphanage to your room. There you waited with the caregivers working that shift. We were late and it was dinnertime. Your groupa was in the front room and the caregivers wanted to say goodbye and feed you one last bottle of porridge. I came to know these women and in ways I would miss their faces, their russian chat and even smiles as we played charades to communicate during my visits. They were kind enough to show me things like what kind of food you were used to eating, what you didn’t like to eat or drink and how to dress you warm enough. If they only knew you we were headed to California in a couple of days. A place where we hardly wear socks and we swim in the ocean and run wildly thru parks chasing birds and ducks without hats and sweatshirts.
I dressed you in your new clothes and the caregivers oohed and awed. It really made them happy to see you in a big bow. I passed out bracelets to them with your name in Cyrillic and then the english translation “Faith” for them to have and remember you by. Some pictures were taken and it was time to go. You hugged them, not really knowing what a hug was. I put you down and you wanted to hold hands. We walked to the door and you never once cried or looked back. You were eager to go with me and on toward your new life.
That drive to the airport was a little tough. You were frightened of the car. But you snuggled into my chest and found your spot. I knew it was going to be okay that moment. I knew you trusted me. It was like that moment our hearts touched and fused together.
My sweet daughter. I had imagined the first year would be tough and full of tantrums and adjustments. As I look back, for me, the hardest part was the jet lag and the tired I felt that first month home. The lack of sleep for 10 days in Russia, actually MONTHS of lack of sleep, because the time leading up to court was not very restful and it all finally hit me. I can count your tantrums over the past year on one hand. You have slept peacefully and soundly in your bed each night since that first night home. You try new foods and like most things. You have embraced being loved and your new life and family. Watching you learn and grow has been the most amazing experience. I look at you that day September 28, 2011 and I look at you today and so much has happened. All for the good.
I hope one day when you are old enough to read this blog, you will see how much you mean to me. This has been the most amazing year of my life. Being your mommy was the greatest gift I was ever given. It feels like you have always been here. My heart has expanded in size with love in a way that I never imagined was possible. When you smile at me my whole world lights up. When you run to hug me I melt to moosh. You make me a better person. When I get tired from work or when I stay up late editing pictures for clients, I simply look over at a picture of you and I am inspired to press on. We have so many more family days to celebrate and memories to make. I can’t wait.
Vera Rose. Vera meaning Faith. Rose for the resilient nature of the rose-bush. Forget to water it and it often sits dormant, not dead. Feed it and it grows beautiful flowers. I promise to keep watering you my sweet daughter. Tonight we will clink clink our glasses, eat macaroni and cheese and have cake to celebrate this special day. But not before we hit the park to run, play and ride the merry-go-round 100 times.