It seems a lifetime ago.
But only six years have passed since we stood in the endless line in the convention-center-dining-room entry hall to Portland International Airport customs with our carry-on baggage and a little girl who had been born somewhere outside Dongguan about seventeen months earlier.
I don't think I can ever forget the awful two weeks we spent in China. And it was less horrible for me than it was for my bride. Mojo - for all that her father's longstanding motto is "Everybody's out to screw ya, so watch yer back..!" - is an optimist at heart, or, perhaps, a justist; she really believes that if you do the right and decent thing and work hard to do it you should get what you work for. The notion that a cold and uncaring world will let you break your heart and then gleefully spit on the pieces is unacceptable to her.
So when our first adoption fell to pieces, and especially the way it fell to pieces, she was shattered in the fall. In some ways I think she will never be mended; I still remember the bitterness in her voice when she looked upon our children and said "We're two-for-four in kids".
Still. We've managed to get this far with our health and two reasonably happy, reasonably healthy kiddos. Our little Miss seems to be growing up with no more than the usual number of kid problems and issues, while some of the other APs we know are fighting with horrors like attachment and emotional maelstroms. So as far as I am concerned we are not "lucky" - call no family lucky until they are all dead of peaceable old age - but we have been lucky so far.
Last night I came home to find the Girl outside under the golden rain tree in the city strip. She was collecting seedpods and shaking the seeds into a jar.
After she had collected a full jar she hopped over and asked me a hundred questions - little Miss Question Time is the Queen of Questions, in case you hadn't noticed from the blog here - about the tree; what it was and why it was where it was and how it had grown and what we planned to do with it.
After I answered her questions - or as many as I could - she pondered the immensity of trees and their future and decided that she would send some of her seeds to the Friends of Trees, so that they would be able to raise more trees and help more families have wonderful trees like ours.
Today I find myself recalling that nightmarish adoption anabasis with a certain detached and bitter amusement. It could hardly have been worse unless we had left China without a little person.
But as it turned out we seem to have managed, through no virtue of our own, to have blundered into a very sweet, very funny, very loving little person who loves ponies and pasta and trees and her mom and me.
Her brother? Well, that might take some time.
I'm not going to get all goopy about fucking red threads and ladybuggery, don't worry. I don't have to, because Gina Biggs, who is awesomesauce, has already said everything that needs to be said about that stuff;
Sometimes the thread you're desperate to hang on to breaks.
Sometimes you lose that thread, and sometimes you cast it away.
Sometimes, though, you get tangled in a thread that you didn't look for or want, didn't hope or work for, and that turns out to be the one that twines around your heart.
So thanks, little one, for tangling us up. Our happy coincidence doesn't lighten a single step of the hard journey to where we met you. It doesn't take away old sorrows, and it will not forestall the sorrows to come.
But it has lightened many since we met.
Ours is an odd sort of love; we were not born into it, and we didn't happen upon it, and we didn't fall into it. We built it, day by day, word by word and touch by touch, without knowing the shape of what we were building or whether we could build a love that wouldn't fall to dust and ashes with a harsh word or a cruel touch. But we did, and do; every day we live we are a gift of love.
We didn't know we loved each other until we did.