Thursday, November 29, 2012

Feels Like Family

Our friend Emily, who lives at the Lifeline orphanage in Haiti, will be coming home for a month to be surrounded by her family and friends for Christmas. Before she does, she has been taking some of her free-time to let the families adopting from Lifeline Skype with their children. Yesterday was our turn.

Erin got out of work early and we all huddled on the back, arms, and cushions of the poor old couch as it groaned under the strain. Six faces (the seventh face was at work) shifting and bobbing to find an open space on the video feed. And then there she was....the eight face ...on the other side. How I wanted to be able to reach in and pull her to our side. To cram her onto the couch with us, nestled within this mass of bodies that is called family. And even though she hasn't spent one second on the couch, or at our table, or in this house... it is all hers. She is a part of us, even though she is far away.

As many of you know, it will be four years this coming January that we have been working on Nephtali's adoption. Four years of dreaming of her as part of our family, thinking about her walking the hall, playing in the yard, scrambling into the car. Four years of imagining a toddler, a preschooler, and now a little young lady as part of our tribe! And through those years we have always wondered what she was thinking. Did she remember us? Did she miss us? Did she understand just who we are trying to be in her life? Yesterday she let us know.

Her face wiggled all over the screen and then that sweet little voice asked Emily in creole, "Is that all my family?" She was counting us. Us... her family. And she knew someone was missing. She laughed at "her big family." Ivy showed her the space in her mouth where four teeth used to be. Nephtali laughed with her sister about her big gap. She asked Emily what we were all sitting together on. Emily told her it was a couch and pointed down the hall where the only couch at lifeline is and her eyes light up. She wanted to know everyone's ages and shouted with joy when she heard Ivy was 6. She wanted to know if Daniel was a boy or a girl and smiled big when told he was her little brother.

Then there was this moment... "Can I see my bed?"

Now the woman in me said to herself and her husband ...we can't do that. Their room is a huge mess! You see, the room that she will share with Ivy is only a play room right now. Two years ago we painted, polished, and primped this room in preparation for two little girls. It's a cheery yellow room with a play kitchen, dolls, stuffed animals, dress up clothes, a doll house and bunk bed with fluffy bright green polka dots comforters!

But Ivy doesn't sleep there yet. She is still waiting for her sister to come. It's their room and she isn't here yet. Plain and simple.  So each day the little ones go in the room to play (which in children's terms means getting everything out and collecting it in the middle of the floor) and at night the door is closed and the room is left until the morning.

Luckily, though, my voice wasn't the only one. There was Dad's voice saying "Who cares. She wants to see her bed!" And so, laptop in hand, we all marched down the hall and Daddy, keeping most of the floor out of view, put her bed on the screen and there on her precious face was the biggest smile we've ever seen.
It was brighter than the twinkle of the Christmas tree lights, brighter than a spotlight on a stage, brighter than the sun... we have a bed for her! She has a bed! A fluffy soft bed! She has a safe place to dream. She has a place in this home.

There were other things as we continued our Skyping that made that big tooth grin appear. Like seeing the wall in our living room with all of our childrens' pictures on it. She jumped when she saw her own face smiling back at her and when I pointed to everyone and said their names and told that "These are all my babies!"

After, when we had to say goodbye and hit that ugly button on the computer that separates our family again, tears started to slide down my face. Tiny drops filled with sorrow falling from a body aching to hold her, but this time there was a smile on my face and a joy in my heart. We are her family. This is her home. She feels it! She knows... She is part of our family!

Lord, please bring her home!

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