This is a raw un-edited Mommy's heart --my gift to my sweet daughter--on the day we honor God's Blessing of her--to us--our family.
A picture speaks a thousand words. What a difference two years makes.
Izabella and Mommy--Just a few hours after we met our precious, precious girl in Xi'an City, Shaanix Province, China -- 2-years ago today.
Izabella and Mommy--October 2011
We have all grown in this past 2 years together as a family of 3. We've aged considerably, she has taught us so many things about ourselves and the world around us--and she has adjusted and grown by leaps and bounds. You can see the maturity in her face. She's as JOY-ful as always. What you don't see is how brilliant she is in so many, many ways.
--Her wobbly little legs are now strong and powerful. Where she initially couldn't walk with much stability--she now races up and down the sidewalk giggling and laughing with no fear of falling and great confidence.
--She's been dancing since our first days together--her stand in place wiggle has transformed to the most beautiful graceful movements that show signs she is going to be an amazing contemporary dancer-with all the emotion of a matured dancer years her senior.
--Her little confused and scared heart--has revealed itself to be the most loving, sweet heart we have ever witnessed.
--She always understood what we were saying to her. This--even not knowing a lick of english in her life. But her language now--is up with her 4.5 year old peers in school. So much so--the teacher didn't realize she had only been submersed in english for just 22 months at the start of school. And those language skills have proved a gift--to unlocking her memories--still fresh in her little mind--like all these little ones--giving us a little glimpse into what her life was like the day she said goodbye to her China Mommy and Daddy and her nannies the day we met her.
With all the challenges this presents to us as parents on the recieving end of this information from our precious sweet baby girl--and the fact that as much as we read--we felt completely incompetent. All we could do--and as instructed by professionals that know much more than we do about these things--was walk through the door to her past--and be there with her--hold her and hug her. It was her first waking moment of grieving (previously--her greiving was done at night during sleep--in the from of night terrors--that she didn't remember the next morning.) This is a new development this year and a mile stone in ability to let go and reconcile with her past. Of course we know there is more to be done in this area--a lifetime of reconciling--as she grows and matures. However, it was as if sharing this memory with us--released her to be "sad"and released her to move on to the next step for her--in trying to make sense of this crazy life she finds herself in.
--She continues to blow our minds with her ability to process her traumatic past and every situation she finds her little self in. A gift that serves her well in dealing with her past as well as the sometimes crazy world around her, and will serve her well all the years of her life.
Here is a little "bit" I wrote and never posted about how she has processed her new family--her China family--and all the things that have happened in her short 4-year life--well this is pretty phenomenal! She has taught me so much--thank you Izabella for sharing your heart and your wise soul.
"Mommy, tell me about the day I was born." This has to be the question of the summer. Initially I thought she was asking about her China Mommy. So I would tell her I can't tell her about that day because I wasn't there. Her China Mommy and Daddy were there with her. Then I'd tell her--her story--of how we can assume somethings--mostly that they loved her. This is a gift for her--that is a question mark for so many--but her story is one of sacrifice to give life. Then I'd tell her the story of how she grew in my heart and how we came to meet her in China and bring her home. As the summer progressed, she'd ask me to tell her that story--and I'd happily oblige. Recently, she asked me again, "Tell me the story about the day I was born, the day you came to China to get me." Wow. She has processed all this information as factual as I can give it to her without embellishments, and age appropriate as I can--to the point where she now refers to the day we met--as the day she was born. Here words. Her conclusion. Precious I tell you.
That day was like giving birth. Complete with all the gripping each others hand as we approached the Xi'an City Airport. I thought Dan would break every finger on my hand. I'll never forget that part. Walking into the hotel room to see a crib set up--empty waiting for the arrival of our little girl. Settling in our hotel room as our new home--away from home--preparing the perfect place to bring her home. The rush across a crazy busy street to the big Chinese Government building--Civil Affairs Office. Asking our guide where she was, she replied--"she's on her way here." To the moment when she appeared in the room on the hip of her Ayi and all I could say was, "Oh she's beautiful!" I imagine--that is what I would have said in the delivery room--if i gave birth to her of my body. Just like a babe covered with the blood and fluids of the mothers womb--our girl was dressed in clothes that were very boyish--she needed a bath--and was covered with scratches and scars. I wouldn't even notice any of that--until much later when we looked back at pictures of her. She was simply beautiful to us--so much so we called her from the day we met her (she was "born" as she puts it) "Our Chinese Princess".
One evening during our nightime routine"Mommy Izabella Chat" she wanted to talk about the day we met her in China. I asked her what she remembered about that day. She said, "Oh. I didn't like Mommy. I just like Daddy."
That's right. I asked her why and she said, "You not look like me Mommy." Of course, how silly of me to not know that. Surely my green eyes were a scarey sight to a little girl in a world full of brown eyes and black hair. Even the locals wanted pictures with me--and it was then I realized--like her--it must have been my green eyes. When I'm happy-they are really green. I"m sure they were super green that day. Then she said, "But you look like me now Mommy." Ahhhh.... :)
She now says--I have TWO Mommies and TWO Daddies! ONE--China Mommy and ONE Love Mommy (that's me.) ONE China Daddy and ONE Love Daddy. These are her words--I never like the label Forever Mommy--so we don't use the term Forever Family or Forever Mommy or Forever Daddy here. In doing so--we allowed her to come up with her own description of what label she wanted to give us. Frankly--I think it's precious. As demonstarted in the above story
--She bonded with Daddy from the start--as evidence in this photo the first day we met her--headed to our hotel HOME--her sweet little hand wrapped around his back--so loving and trusting. Her bond with Daddy this past year has been a miracle to watch. She is the center of her Daddy's world--he's lost without hearing from her while at work. She has his sense of humor and loves to giggle and be "silly and goofy" with him. Their favorite game on the phone each day she calls him--and says, "Hello. Hello? Are you there? Are you there?" repeat refrain...over and over again. No matter what a bad day he's having--I hear his voice lifted to the heavens in JOY when she does this.
"Izabella your Daddy sent a very special text to me this year--I want to share it with you. He said, "I know I've told you this before but, thank you for brings Izabella into my life. She makes me laugh and I hope that never changes. She is the best thing that ever happened to me."
--Her humor is balanced with a compassionate, sensitive side. Dad and I like to say she got the best of both of us--his humor and my sensitive nature. This morning is the perfect example of this. We discussed today is Family Day--and how we'd celebrate. Here's how we started our day.
Mommy: "Good Morning Izabella!" Hair all mussed and in her face--so much so I couldn't see her precious face. As I whissped it away from her face and gleefully telling her I found you my little Izabella.
I: A groggy- "Good Morning Mommy! I so tired! I not sleep good."
Mommy: "Ahhh...I'm sorry. Then go back to sleep." As I snuggled her in tight to my chest to love on her rubbing her back.
I: "No Mommy. Isn't it Family Day today?!"
Mommy: A tear rushed to my eye, the world stopped for a moment, my heart warmed so sweetly, as I replied--my voice cracked-EVER so slightly--"Yes it is."
I: Her head buried in my chest, my arms wrapped so tightly around her--I couldn't hold her close enough, she said, "Mommy have happy tears?"
Mommy: The emotions flooded my eyes, my chest tightened with deep emotion, as I said, 'Oh yes. Mommy have happy tears. I am soooo very glad you are here with us--and that God found us YOU and we met you 2-years ago today. So VERY HAPPY." The truth is--no only was I overwelmed with pure and utter Joy of the kind I have experienced so often since we met her--but I was stunned yet again--that she is so sensitive--that she could "HEAR the tears" in my voice--when I utter just three little words--and tried to conceal it from her even. She is so amazing and so sweetly, compassionately and genuinely sensitive and loving.
I: "I love you Mommy. Forever and ever!"
Mommy: "Oh me too Izabella. I love you too--forever and ever."
I: "Mommy tell me about the day I was born."
Mommy: "Ok...well....let's get you ready for school and I'll tell you all about it." And we did. As we dressed, brushed our teeth, jumped in the car, buckled up and headed to school...all throughout she'd say over and over again, "Then what happened Mommy? What happened next Mommy?" In the car on the way to school--we got to the day she walked through the door in the arms of her Nanny and she was so scared....
I: She stopped me and said, "But Mommy my China Daddy told me it would be ok."
Mommy: "Really? That's great. Was your China Daddy there with you? Or could you not see him--just hear him?"
I: "Oh I just look up at the sky and I hear him in my ear." as she looks to the sky through her window and points to her ear. "Mommy, wouldn't be cool if we could all be together in the same place?"
I don't know if she meant her China Daddy (bio father) or God her Daddy in heaven. She talks about God talking to her all the time. She even thinks God lives in China taking care of all the children without families and she wants to go be with Him and help them. I didn't clarify with her. I just left it alone.
In the parking lot--we had to wrap up the story--so...
Mommy: "At the end of the day we met you--after you had met many of your new family on the computer from our hotel room, we put you in a warm fuzzy PINK pj's and you snuggled down on Daddy's chest and fell fast asleep." As captured in the picture below--NOTE--she is holding tight to those keys--the ones she wouldn't put down from the moment we gave them to her in the Civil Affairs Office--even when she went potty. She loved them--still does--Daddy just changed the batteries for her. The "beep, beep" that sounded like a rickshaw (ironically our ride back to the hotel after meeting her was in a rickshaw) horn--the symbol almost completely worn off with wear from her pressing so much. Eventually, she learned--it was HERS and no one was going to take it away. Just like our LOVE--it's hers for ever--no one will take it away.
I: As we entered the school foyer--the director of the school greeted us. She let go of my hand and ran towards her yelling, "Did you know I fell asleep on my Daddy chest in China?"
Ahh.....sweet girl. :) I was sure to share with her teacher this was our Family Day--thinking she would be sharing it a lot today. The teacher replied that YES--she heard all about it yesterday. Very exciting. I said, "Yes it is. We will celebrate tonight." And I quickly headed out the door--choked up all the way to the car--with the un-shakeable overwhelming feeling of gratitude and pure JOY that God had Blessed us so extraordinarily!
She finally started naming her "babies" (stuffed animals). This beautiful lamb-given to her by one of my best friends from high school and her family, Laura--she has named "Franny." Ironically, it is the first baby to get a name--other than her horse CHINA, that was named in the store before we bought him. :)
--She is now--43 pounds, 42" tall. But, she is soooooo little here--just 28 pounds and 30"tall! I am always amazed when I see these images of her at 28 months and so tiny. Now 2 years later--a full grown 4.5 year old! Crazy I tell you.
I will close with the same closing as the post from China the day we met--cause I still feel the same way--would only add--her beauty continues to astound us--inside and out this girl is a gift of immeasurable value. I am deeply grateful--so deeply:
Izabella's mom! I'm a MOM! Finally! and never imagined it would be to such a beautiful chinese princess! I love her beyond words!