Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our 1st Familyversary!

One year ago today this little girl climbed up the stairs to meet her new family.

She backed into my arms and took the dolly that I gave her.  
Such ease.  Such grace.  Such confidence.  

I really can’t believe it’s been a whole year.  And of course in other ways I can’t believe it’s only been a year.
I look back at these pix of our first few minutes and days together and just sit back in awe of this little person that I am lucky to call my daughter.  How did she do it???  How did she just meet these new, strange people and so willingly call them family???  

Really... how did she do it???  

This video was taken within the first few hours of us being together on the first day.  Notice how quickly she had Jack and Ben at her beck and call!  (btw, "Ah-TOW!" means "Give it to me!"  Jack and Ben learned that word and "Nay!" ("Come here!") very quickly that first day!!!  ;-) 

I can look back in some of the pictures now and recognize emotions that I didn’t at the time.  I know her face and her emotions so much better now than I did a year ago that I now can see things there that I just didn’t recognize then. I can see hesitation in her eyes sometimes, or even occasionally confusion.  But I look at all those pictures- those moments captured in time- and I don’t see fear.  I don’t see sadness.  I just see an incredibly brave little girl who has accepted that some really awful things have happened in her life and because of that sadness she needs a new family.  And so... here they are and they seem nice and fun, so... Okay!  Let’s do this!  
I really can’t get over that.  I don’t think I ever will.  I don’t think I will ever get used to the fact that she just walked into my arms in those first moments together.  How could she do that???  How could she trust me so instantly???  It’s just unbelievable.  Just unbelievable.  

The pix below are from our first day together in America.  She was so happy... so content.  How did she do it???  EVERYTHING in her world had just changed.  EVERYTHING.  Although she didn't (and still doesn't) realize it, she had instantly lost her culture, her language... everything that until that point in her 3.5 year old life she had ever known was GONE.  Her reaction?  She just had a BALL!!!  How on EARTH did that happen???

Jack and Ben threw a "party" for her on our first day home.

The party included dancing around with lightsabres.

Avé caught on right away!

I will be so interested in years to come to hear her talk about those first few days together.  About those first few moments together.  She calls the time when we met "When I was a baby..."  When we ask her about those first moments, first days, she just talks about how she gave suckers to Jack and Ben and they taught her how to blow bubbles.  I ask her if she felt scared when she was riding in the car to come to us.  She says she doesn't remember very much about it.  But I think someday she will.  Maybe someday she will have a completely different story to tell us than the one we perceived.  Maybe she will tell us that she was terrified but covered it all up.  But... I don't think she could have kept up that kind of cover for a whole year.  She just came to us ready to be in a family.  Just ready to give and receive love.  I can't explain it... I guess we just got lucky b/c I know it doesn't have anything to do with the rest of us.  

It's just HER.  Remarkable, brave, funny, sweet, loving, sassy, wise-beyond-her-years Abeba Joy Lilah Gower.  

It's just her.  

I really think this had a lot to do with her smooth transition.

One of her new favorite phrases is, "You are my favorite Mommy EVER!!!"  My boys used to say that too, but... it takes on a whole new meaning when it comes from her, doesn't it?  I always send up a silent apology to Mama Meselesh in heaven when she says that.  I always tell Mama Meselesh, "I'm so sorry she doesn't remember you... But YOU are the reason she is who she is.  YOU laid her foundation and made it so strong and durable.  YOU planted these seeds in her heart of bravery and flexibility and YOU taught her to give and receive love."  Mama Meselesh did all the hard work.  We just reap the fruits of her labor.  

...I hope she knows.

I really hope she gets to look down from heaven and gets to KNOW that this girl is JUST. LIKE. HER.

It's been a wonderful year.


marciisaacs said...

Sweet, indeed... :)

Kaysie Steele said...

So amazing. Such a beautiful expression of God's love for you and for your whole family - and of course, for that beautiful little girl. Love you.

Anonymous said...

A year already??!! Where does the time go?? She is such a BEAUTY!!!

God Bless,

Karenkool said...

Love it, Gayla. She looks so happy.

Selam! G'day! Hello!