I saw a “Gotcha Day” video this week from a family who traveled just before we did. I had communicated a lot with this family before our adoptions, but in the 2 months since we’ve been home, we’ve just been in contact on Facebook.
So when I saw her Gotcha Day video, of course I had to watch it: that glorious moment when a family is physically united. When all the prayers, hopes, and dreams come to fruition before my very eyes. It was beautiful.
One of the parts of the video included a trip to the orphanage, and I could hear the children all singing in the background. As the camera panned around, I caught a glimpse that took my breath away.
My daughter. With her shaved head, her yellow orphanage dress, and her filthy once-pink orphanage shoes.
Was it only 2 months ago that she was living in that world? No one tucked her in. No one make sure she had optimal servings of dairy, fruits and veggies, whole grains, and protein. No one read to her four bedtime stories, or massaged her head, back, hands and arms after shower time. No one carefully rubbed lotion on her skin religiously twice per day to keep it from getting ashy.
She was one of 75, lost among the dozens of other children surrounding her, waiting for their own “Gotcha Day.”
Now, I wonder. Is she happy to be a part of our home? Has all of the change been worth it for her? If she were to have a choice right now, would she go back to the orphanage, or to her birth family? Does she know she is loved? Does she know she is finally safe?
Or is she weary from being told when to go to bed, to chew with her mouth closed, to use her inside voice? Is she tired of unfamiliar foods, a language she doesn’t understand, and living in a world with mostly white people? In the midst of all the people hugging her, touching her, greeting her with smiles and kisses, does she know that I am her mother?
I don’t know. I would love to catch a glimpse of what is going through her head. I would love for her to communicate to me in a language that I could understand. I would love to know if her laughter is genuine or just a coverup for the grief and fear she should rightfully be feeling.
Someday I hope I will know.
But today is not that day.
I can only look at the girl across the room in her pink corduroy pants and flowered top and hope that we are who she hoped for, and more importantly, who she needs.