To be her mom

We opened the big cardboard box from our agent a year ago. Inside were books educating us about what we might encounter when we bring Meseret and Kamise home. Pages about black hair follicles…who knew there were different growth patterns and follicles. Caring for black hair. How to respectfully respond to insensitive comments by curious onlookers. How to attach to at-risk children. The challenges we may face as we integrate at-risk children into our family. Sometimes it was disturbing to read stories of detached children who never find the place within them to trust their parents and surrender to their care. All of this reading prepared us for the sobering realities we might encounter. And as we journeyed into the heart of mystery, He showed us repeatedly He is the Faithful One. Yet we still questioned our sanity by welcoming two children into our family, whose story has taken them into unfathomable losses and life on the streets. Our agent came over on Sunday, excited to see our girls. She rarely enjoys the pleasure of seeing this side of the adoption journey for most clients live out-of-state. She said she has a video of the market which comes to Kamashi (our girls’ village) every Saturday. She took it five years ago when she first went to Kamashi. She remembers seeing Kamise, a 3 year-old then, wandering unattended in the market all day long.

We were prepared for the worst. These children, who’ve fended for themselves on the streets, could have arrived with hardened hearts. Instead, Kamise clings to me. She can’t get enough of me. Hugging until we’ve melded into one. For a few days she pushed back at my authority. I replaced her “no” with a “Yes Mommy” and she now joyfully responds to my requests, “Ok! Yes Mommy!”

As I was applying my makeup at 4 (life has slowed immensely) in the afternoon on Wednesday, she ran in from the backyard and whispered, “Mommy, shower.” I drew the bathwater with the necessary bubbles overflowing and she couldn’t have leapt in faster. But when I left the bathroom, she exclaimed, “Mommy!” and leapt out of the tub. I put her back in and sat. And was “with” her. And took in the beauty of this little one who has finally been given the gift of one who adores her…and will protect her at all costs.

Kamise’s only boundary is her back. To come from behind and put a hand on her back will bring a “No!” and a squirm reflecting a harsher reality. What is meant for love is received as pain, offense. She allows me occasionally to gently place my hand on her back if she’s prepared, but only Mom has this trust at this point. I wonder what happened to her from behind. My mother’s heart aches to know as I encounter the squirm, aches to know the source of the scars on her cheek. One day she may remember and recount the stories when we share the same language and trust. When she does, I will count it an honor to hold her heart for her. In the meantime, I’m thankful there was One who was there in every situation, holding her heart. Always with her. Never forsaking her. What a gift to be His arms, His eyes, His ears, His legs, and His heart to this abandoned one, who is now enjoying her truer reality as the Chosen One.  Though we were prepared for the worst, our Father has lavished us with far more than we could ask or imagine in this melding into one.