Happy Baba Marta Day, little girl.
This time last year, we spent the day with you at your orphanage...
We sat in a little room on little wooden chairs. There was a room full of little boys and girls, sitting patiently, listening to a story and singing songs. I scanned all the faces, but didn't see yours. After a few minutes, someone carried you into the room, and you sat in my lap. You with your big-brown eyes and chopped-off, scraggly hair. I remember that little red jumper like it was yesterday. You squirmed and wiggled. It was obvious that this was all very new for you. The other children sat quietly, but you cried out. I wondered how many times in your little life that you been mainstreamed with the "normal" children. I guessed that this rarely, if ever, happened. You seemed so very lost.
Across the room, there was a table, brightly decorated, covered with food. I saw your eyes scanning the room. When you saw the table, your eyes locked in, and you started whimpering. At first softly, but as the singing and story-telling continued, you got more and more agitated. You sat in your daddy's lap, and he tried to comfort you. Before he knew it, like a flash, you jumped down from his strong arms and ran to the snack table. Your little hands grabbed as much as you could hold, and you began stuffing the food in your mouth, as much as you could, as fast as you could. The orphanage worker quickly picked you up and carried you outside. She was obviously frustrated with you. I remember watching her pace up and down the hallways, carrying your stiff frame. Your tiny legs hanging limp, like you didn't know how to be held. Your eyes filled with confusion and fear.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Were you really so hungry that you would attack the snack table? You were like a caged animal, and I had no clue what we were going to do with you. Tears filled my eyes, and, my faith faltered. The fears crept in. The doubts and confusion overwhelmed me. What would it be like having you at home? Would you ever be able to learn? The questions kept filling my mind, and for a split second, I wondered if we had made a mistake.
After the little program, we met up with you again. We were taken for the first time (and for the last time) to briefly see your little room. We saw where you play. We saw where you sleep. This one single room where you spent all of your time, and our hearts broke.
It looked different from the room we had been in. Virtually empty, just a few toys scattered around. Six little cribs lined up side by side. It was eerily quiet, except for the screaming of a little boy that was quickly being taken to another room. They didn't want us to see any of the other "special" children that shared the room with you. I remember the orphanage director telling us at our very first meeting how many children were at the orphanage, and that you were one of six special needs children they cared for. Most with significant needs, like yours, were placed in the mental institution, but for some reason, you had been able to stay at this particular facility.
You looked so little. I could hardly believe that you were the same age as Palmer. Did you go to bed hungry at night? When you woke up in the middle of the night, were you afraid? I had so many questions, and received so few answers.
Paint was chipping off the walls and your crib. Blank walls, empty spaces. The toys looked as if they were decades old. This was the only home you knew and that wild look in your eyes pierced straight to my heart. My fears began to lift, and how my heart ached for you, precious little girl. How I wished I could erase the 5 years you had spent in this place. Oh, sweet girl, there is so much more to life than these four walls. Soon you would be home...
Baba Marta Day (or Grandma March Day) is a holiday celebrated in Bulgaria on the first day of March. There's a lot of folklore surrounding the day, but basically, it symbolizes warmer weather and well-being. On this day in Bulgaria, people wear bracelets woven together with red and white threads. They believe that the red stands for life/birth and the white stands for anew/on clear ground. When they are combined, it means newborn, rebirth, a new beginning.
How perfectly fitting!
Today, exactly one year later, you have learned so very much, Sophi. When you are ready to get up in the morning, you will remember to call out "mama" and I will come get you. You will show me the sign for potty, and then the sign for eat. You will choose between two pictures and show me which one you want for breakfast. You will use the spoon all by yourself, and will finish your milk all gone, even though you really don't like drinking your milk in the morning. You are still learning how to chew, but you do such a good job taking one bite at a time. You are no longer that frightened and starving little girl who panics anytime food is nearby. Fifteen pounds later, sometimes I want to laugh at how picky you have become and how you would much rather be playing outside than eating your breakfast. After you finish your breakfast, you will show me the sign for "all done" and even attempt verbally to say it. You will point to your clothes, your way of telling me you want to get dressed. You love picking out your clothes, and you LOVE shoes! You will squeal with excitement when I ask if you want to go outside. I will make you to tell me what you want to do, and you will very clearly and proudly say "out." Your little legs will take off, running and laughing giddily, you will head to the trampoline. You always want someone to jump with you, and just in the past few weeks, you've learned that you can come grab one of our hands and "ask" us to jump with you. You are learning that words have meaning and purpose, and that you can actually get something you want by saying "ma-ma" or "da-da." When I call you inside for lunch, you quickly obey and come running to the door. You love to take baths, and you love to look at your picture books. Two months ago, you aimlessly flipped through page after page, eyes everywhere but the pictures in the book. Now, you intently look at each picture and each page, and what progress you have made, learning how to appropriately interact with toys. You ARE learning, little one, and even though, sometimes, it feels painstakingly slow, I know you are able to learn and capable of so much more!
Lately, we've been telling you bits and pieces of your story, showing you pictures of your orphanage and where you used to live. I'm still not sure how much you understand, but I pray daily that the Lord will continue to open your heart to be able to love and trust. We talk often about family, and you always, always smile when I tell you that families stick together! I pray, sweet girl, that this sinks deep, deep into your heart, and that you can rest tonight knowing you are loved and safe and chosen! Because you are! We are so glad that you are home, that you are part of our family, and that this crazy, crazy story of our lives includes this chapter! I can't wait to see what comes next!
Oh, mercy! I'm behind once more! I intended to finish up this post 2 weeks ago on the actual holiday, but somehow got sidetracked along the way! Imagine that!
Adult Supervision Required!
ALL THE TIME!
At any given moment, these sticks turn into weapons and their smiling faces and happy laughter turn into an all-out battle cry that I'm positive everyone in our neighborhood can hear!
Yes, you are seeing my 2 year old with a real saw. He loves any tools, but especially the ones that are dangerous!
This little girl is on the move! Child-proofing has been bumped up to a new level once again!
And this one is pretty non-stop, too!
Together, these six, keep me on my toes and on my knees and off of my computer! :)
I catch myself thinking "what a difference a year makes," but I stop myself immediately. What a difference HE makes! There is no other explanation!!! Only Mercy can take sadness, fear, and abandonment and make it into something beautiful!
Mercy healing, Mercy holding, Mercy loving her back to health and joy and hope and life!
I love March, and I'm glad spring is coming! A new season and a new beginning. I love seeing my yard come to life. The buds on our azaleas beginning to unfold, the daffodils popping up, the new growth on the hydrangeas all testify that spring is just around the corner! And I am thankful! Another mercy to count, adding to my ever-growing list!
The season we've been in has had its moments - trying and stretching, faith-building, and many, many mercy-needing moments! Days that make me fall on my knees and cry out for mercy. And you know what? I bet you can guess what I'm going to say...
He hears my cries. He knows what I need. He faithfully provides, and He consistently gives. He is healing, and He is moving! He is stirring our hearts and reminding us all over again the journey of faith that adoption is! His mercies ARE new every morning! Great is His faithfulness!
It's been good for me to look back on this past year and remember the journey that we've been on! I'm encouraged as I see how far Sophi has come. Sometimes, on a day to day basis, I can't see the progress, but as I think back on the little girl I held in my arms last year on Baba Marta Day, I am blown away by what the Lord has done in her heart (and in mine). My heart fills with hope for what He will continue to do, the healing that IS coming.
My faith is growing! Stretching and growing and resting in Him! And so is my hope! Hope for all that is coming, hope for what is ahead in this next season. This is a GOOD place to be! This season, these days - I wouldn't trade for anything! He is good, and because of that, so are we!
Happy (belated) Baba Marta Day!!!! SPRING IS COMING!
Can you tell my windows have been open, welcoming the warmer weather along with the feathery friends that somehow find their way in, too! Barrett got a kick out of this little guy on his train track. I was not so amused. It turned out that he had another little friend enjoying the crumbs under my dining room table! Oh, it is a crazy place we call home! Bless you, Sophi! You had no idea what life would be like outside that orphanage! Everyday is an adventure, and everyday is full of mercy!