The sign says pree-vyet, an informal hello in Russian. Sometimes I wish we could upload programs into our brains like they do in The Matrix. I don’t need to know kung fu or how to operate a helicopter, but Russian would be helpful.
Tonight we gathered in the atrium at the Atlanta airport with fellow families, bobbing balloons, and homemade signs of welcome. We snapped photos and compared iPhone translation apps. The plane from New York was an hour late, and my kiddos grew restless. Evie spun and spun that tired child spin until she tripped over her own feet, and Elliott licked the floor. Of the airport. The floor of the airport.
Our friends in charge gave us updates. The kids have landed. The kids are on the “Plane Train.” The kids will arrive in four minutes. The anticipation grew.
And then they were here. Through the glass partition, I scanned and scanned, looking for the face from the photo, the snapshot from January, back when we chose. We chose her.
Six months later, she was standing in front of us, behind the glass, and I watched as she read her name on our sign, the one in neon swirly paper because eight-year-old girls like neon and swirls. Our eyes met and I beamed, BEAMED joy at her and she smiled shyly back. Did she like what she saw? Was she happy with her family for the summer? We chose. She didn’t.
And then they called her name and our name and I stepped forward and she stepped forward and do we hug? I wanted to gather her up and rock her, but I went with a hug. I knelt down to her level and hugged and she didn’t let go and I didn’t let go and I could’ve stayed that way for a very long time if it weren’t for the line behind us and Evie and Elliott pressing forward to say hello to our visitor.
She clutched a stuffed bear, and I asked her its name. Elena. I shook the bear’s paw solemnly and said, “Hello, Elena. It’s nice to meet you.” Our girl, A–, smiled approvingly.
We headed homeward, with our two new friends, A– and one of the precious chaperones who accompany the children. She’s our first guest in our new guest room, and we spent the ride home getting to know her while Elliott and A– rode quietly in the back and Evie chattered nonstop and resorted to singing the alphabet song when she realized we were talking about not her.
At home, we showed A– her room upstairs and the chaperone her room downstairs. A– grinned up at me in her new Hello Kitty jammies, and I tucked her in, prayed over her, and turned out the light. Downstairs, Alex and the chaperone were digging into our leftover Ethiopian food, and she went for the cow’s stomach, earning major points on my Awesome Sauce Scale. She also brought us an entire bag of chocolate. This is going to work out just fine.
A– is in foster care back home in Eastern Europe. Except not right now, because she’s upstairs in her pink paisley bed. We have five glorious weeks to love on her, pack in the fun, make life-lasting memories, and give her…us. I’m starting with scrambled eggs and a new pair of shoes. Her toes are poking out past the ends of her sandals and I’m thinking glittery flip flops.
My heart, that beating blob that tends to end up outside my body in the sleeve-region, is on a big, tarnished, silver platter to the Lord. When we bought this new house, we prayed that God would fill it, and at least for now, He has. I’m trusting Him for the future and praising Him for the present.