I'm home. Involved in that process were two cancelled flights, one reroute, one overnight layover and many more hours strapped into an economy class airline seat than I care to remember. But I'm home.
While it was Thursday morning instead of Wednesday night, four little bodies jumping in place with hands clapping, just waiting for the magic words "okay, now you can go" from their daddy as I stepped out of the restricted area provided the sweetest welcome home mob you can imagine.
|this photo obviously not taken at the airport ~ i was looking a little rougher ~ but this mob scene gives the idea of my welcome from my wee ones|
And I'm grateful for the fresh air and Carolina blue skies. I'm happy to be able to eat fruit without peeling it and to drink water from the tap. It's nice that I don't have to wonder if gmail or any other google product is going to work today.
I find myself checking the time and thinking about where I'd be at the foster home if I were still there.
I miss my friends in the backyard school and try to replay their little voices speaking impressively fluent English to me.
I recall the overwhelming joy that made me jump in the air and spin in circles when I heard, just five minutes after giving her a hug and telling her that I loved her, that sweet Eliana finally has a family committed to bringing her home.
I smile as I remember seeing a little girl drinking tiny sips of water on her own. Drinking water may sound like not much of an accomplishment, but with the severity of her condition, it is huge!
I can still hear the tenderness in the voice of a little girl as she gently mothered her baby doll.
I treasure having been right there to see one figure out taking a step unassisted. It may not have been his very first independent step, but it certainly was one of the early ones.
I miss the countless hugs, cuddles and smiles from precious toddlers who compete for attention, not because they are attention starved, but because they are in a place where they have tasted individualized affection and they know they want more.
One of my sweetest memories happened just minutes before my last shift in the toddler room ended. Nannies began to take children out for lunch and suddenly I was left with just one sweet girl. We "talked" for several minutes which consisted of me saying syllables to her (ma ma ma ma ma, da da da da da) and her smiling and responding, "la la la la la" each time. Then I scooped her up on my lap and she leaned over to touch her forehead to mine. And in the quiet of the room, I sang Jesus Loves Me over and over to her. This produced the sweetest of smiles. All too quickly, her nanny came back to take her for her mid-afternoon meal, but she granted my request to take a picture of this sweet one and me. Then it was time to go, but what a moment to leave on.
The children that live within those walls come from many different difficult situations. Some are physically at the brink of leaving this earth, and others are emotionally shattered. But I am so thankful that their arrival there truly ushers a new day into their lives. From the time they arrive they are part of a family and that family extends well beyond their adoption days.
While over 200 have now been adopted into forever families, they are not just numbers. Countless ayis, staff members, and even the drivers broke into huge smiles when they were told that I was Daniel's Mama ~ they knew just who he was and all crowded around the photo album I brought to see how he had grown.
Great love is poured into these children. Their blog is appropriately named Love Grows Here. (Go check it out ~ I challenge you not to fall in love with at least one of the precious children you'll meet there). It is indeed a home that brings hope to the hopeless and the fatherless.
I look forward to visiting again one day...