Tuesday, September 23, 2008

366 Days

...ago we met the little harbor town girl for the first time.

Honestly?

It was appalling. We were headbutted, still reeling from the nightmarish fiasco that was our original referral. She was terrified, snatched up from her orphanage, her nannies and everything she'd known in her short life. It's a miracle that one of us didn't just swandive out the window of the White Swan.

Somehow the three of us managed to make it through the chaotic free-verse maelstrom that is Guangzhou traffic, Chinese and U.S. government paperwork and intercontinental travel.But I'd be kidding you if I said that it was easy or fun.

We arrived home a mess. Missy sick with giardia, jet-lagged, terrified and fearful even to sleep. We were emotional Love Canals; covered over but toxic inside with anger and fear and shredded by exhaustion.

I was not sure if we would ever connect with this brush-cut little homunculi that cried and clung and said and evinced nothing. She seemed not a year-and-a-half but half a year old. Our hearts and our hands were heavy.But little by little our baby girl started to emerge from the frightened toddler unable to play and afraid to speak. We began to see, first, small, bright flashes of personality.

And then whole moments of a loving, giggling little girl who gave hugs and wanted "more!"

Here she is the past Saturday; a year past the first french fries at Lucy's on Shamian Dao but still a girl with a taste for junk food, playing with her balloon and bouncing in her booth, vying with "Shea-Shea" (her name for her big brother) for toys and hugs and almost anything she can clutch in her little hand.

The girl who was too terrified of the outdoors to even walk on the grass in her shoes now flings off the shoes and socks to run barefoot on the beach, wriggling her toes into the sand to feel the cool, wet grittyness of it.We've lived through to much to think that we're over the Troubles, dear one. The world and time will aways bring troubles - not in single spies but in battalions.

But we've beaten back the first of the Troubles. We've found you, the happy little girl inside the frightened child we met that hot September day above the Pearl River what seems so long ago and so far away, and you've come back out to our world with us. We've climbed out from the Hills of Hell, my love, and though we don't know where the journey will lead us or how far we will go, we will take it together as long as we can, searching for all the love and happiness that we may, until the time comes for us to part.To "Missy" Shaomei Gellar on the first anniversary of her adoption;

Your daddy loves you, baby girl, and he always will.

8 comments:

Red Sand said...

To Missy and the whole family, happy first anniversary. What an amazing difference twelve months can make, kinda makes you excited for the next twelve.

pluto said...

What a journey! I hope that whatever troubles you face in the future will be smaller than the obstacles you've already overcome. You've already faced so much and there HAS to be some justice somewhere in this crazy world of ours.

You Know Where You Are With said...

What a cutie! Love the before and after pictures. Happy Year 1!

walternatives said...

Congratulations on the first of many anniversaries with your family, sweet girl. This was a lovely post, Chief. I'm honored to have been along for the ride, and hope to continue through the coming years. x's from Texas

Brent said...

What a wonderful tribute for a sweet little girl! I hope we'll get to see you guys soon - I look forward to seeing Missy's new room all finished up.

Beeb said...

Wow! A year already - it seems both to have flown and crept at the same time.
I love your family posts - fun to watch the little ones grow and your family gel.
Congrats on the year!

FDChief said...

Gawwwrsh....

Seriously; I want to thank you all for your kind words and thoughts. You are all part of our family, and we love to hear from you and about you.

It's an odd sort of family, but we like it.

As Missy herself would say: Treat!

atomic mama said...

"Treat!" back at rockin' miss Missy on her anny. Congrats to the whole fam!!