Today is the four year anniversary of the day we met our daughter, Elise. I don’t think I’ll ever forget waiting by the phone in the hotel room, surviving a wild cab ride and arriving at the orphanage. It was all so surreal, and left us forever changed.
At the time, we knew so little about the parenting challenges we would encounter — though we thought we had educated ourselves pretty well. And as we continue to learn more on this adoption journey, today I am reminded of how expectant my husband and I were. December 18, 2008, was the culmination of a very long journey for us. We had traveled a combined 24 hours to meet our daughter. I was sick. We were scared and nervous and tired. But December 18, 2008, was different for Elise. She was tired and hungry and probably wondering who these strangers were that were taking her.
And now in 2012, we are all a little older, and my husband and I are still tired. Sometimes we are frustrated that we are not farther along in our relationship with Elise, while Elise is frustrated that her little sister keeps breaking all her toys and that she can’t have more sour candy. Though we, the parents, process our family story differently than Elise, I hope and pray that as she remembers and makes sense of her own story, she will bring us with her so we can support her in her journey.
So today, December 18, 2012, we will remember where we were four years ago. And we will remember that although December 18 was the start of the story of our family, Elise’s story started before we were ever a part of it. And we will honor her story — all of her story — and how it changes our family as we continue on this journey together.
Elise started gymnastics in September, and today was the parent show. She did the balance beam, floor, vault, and uneven bars. I took lots of pictures of my little gymnast. It was fun to watch. (I think next time I will take video.)
Over the Easter weekend, my parents, my youngest brothers, and my sister, her husband, and their daughter came in. My brother and his wife who also live up here joined us. Elise loves when all her family comes to see her. She didn’t even mind loaning out her room to Uncle Andrew and Uncle Ben. She probably wishes she could sleep on an air mattress in mom and dad’s room every night.
On Saturday, we took the girls to the Easter Eggsperience at Irving Bible Church. Elise did everything: petting zoo, egg hunt, face painting, carnival games, and bounce houses. Maggie participated in the egg hunt with some help from her daddy. The girls had a good time, so we will be taking them back next year.
Here are some pictures of all the fun they had over the weekend.
Elise does a lot that gets me thinking. She’s learning to recognize rhymes, but right now she just points out parts of words that are the same: upstairs/downstairs or inside/outside. In this particular exchange, she focused on the word adopt.
Elise asks, “Remember you adopted me?”
ME: I do remember.
Elise, “And Mary adopted Jesus. That’s the same word adopt, adopt.”
ME: Who told you Mary adopted Jesus?
Elise, “God. I prayed to him and He said Mary and Joseph adopted Jesus. And then He died.”
Now, I am not interested in getting technical with her statement. It’s just an insight into an almost 4 year old’s mind. But isn’t it cool that she’s already identified herself with Jesus because of adoption? And isn’t cool that’s she right? Adopt and adopt – it is the same word. We adopted her into our family and God adopts us into his family.
Then just yesterday, we were walking around the mall and Elise asked, “Mom, when are you going to adopt Maggie?” I said, “I am not going to adopt Maggie because I gave birth to her.” She said, “You only adopted me?” Me, “Yes.” I only adopted Elise, but it only changed our lives forever. I’m so thankful for adoption
How did we already get here? Only three short months until we have a one year old. Someone asked me to compare Elise and Maggie at 9 months, and I am happy to oblige. I have Elise’s 10 month stats, but there is still a difference.
It may only look like a couple inches and pounds, but it’s the difference between Elise wearing 3-6 months clothes and Maggie being an inch away from outgrowing 12 month clothes. Maggie is super tall; she’s grown 10 inches and gained 12 pounds since birth. Since Elise came home at 6 1/2 months, she’s gained 14 pounds; their growth rates are a little different:)
And Maggie wants to do everything her sister does: she’s pulling up, cruising, and feeding herself. She’s even eating her crib while she’s working on some new teeth, and she’s working on shaking her head no, waving, and saying mama and dada. We are afraid she may run before she walks to catch Elise; they really enjoy each other. I have the pictures to prove it.
Elise had a Christmas Program at school and a little dancing set to Christmas music in her ballet class. Let me just say that Elise sings the loudest out of her school friends and dances with the most enthusiasm at ballet class. I am not exaggerating.