It is difficult to describe how it feels to greet one of these children. For so many months, you have a picture, a single image of them. And then they are there, walking toward you.
It is the first moment of the rest of your life.
For me, this time was different. They probably all are. This time, I felt like I was the one coming home. Back to the place where part of my heart lives.
This time, I was able to savor special time with friends, connect with new hosting families, and enjoy the time waiting. Of course I was nervous, but it was a hopeful nervous, a readiness to have her with me.
And when she saw me, her eyes crinkled, her face lit up. Smiling that sunshine smile away across the ocean of people. And then she was in my arms.
She was shy and nervous, but talking. Only a head taller than Little Man. Asking if her earrings are okay to wear, where we will go, telling me about her grandmother and her sisters. Already I see that this will be different, this talking. The investment will be less physical, more mental. Always emotional.
We had dinner together as a group: these three precious children, the familes who already love them more than seems possible, and a sweet chaperone staying in our town. I sat next to the chaperone, and she told me of her childhood, their trip across the ocean, and some of the history of Sunshine and Picassa.
Already the depth of brokenness I find takes my breath away.
With Soccer boy, I did not know his hurt—I only saw the ramifications of it. Tonight, I heard the stories of the hurt, and know that despite the calm exteriors, the ramifications run deep in a different way. Processing grief as an older child is still painfully difficult. It is still grief.
And so, we rode home. We talked. She did not want to sleep, so we talked. A little English, a little of her language, a little Russian, a little charades. And I got to know her. And I wanted to tell her how much she matters. So I did.
I love New York I say. How you say love? Mīlestība. Lyubov.
The next one I knew. “How you say ‘I love you’?” I ask. “ ‘Ya lyublyu bus’, right?” It sounds like Yellow Blue Bus.
“Well, yellow blue bus.”
She looks at me, and the shadows of the car lights dance across her face. She smiles slightly and tilts her head. Yes?
Oh, yes, I tell her. I see you, I see your picture. I say, beautiful girl. Smile…ahhhh. I say, I like this girl. I read about you. It say, smart girl, strong girl. It say, girl wants to be teacher. Girl wants to learn. Girl wants to come America. I say, verbut (maybe). I pray. I say ahhhhh…this girl. I like her more. I talk to woman who interviewed. She say she pray for you. Please, let her come America. Please, someone love this girl. And then I choose you. I say yes, yellow blue bus.
Her eyes twinkled in the darkness.
It’s true, I say. We pray for you. I wanted you. I pick you. Yellow blue bus.
And she relaxed into the seat. “Ja? Ja, really?”
And when we got home, I hugged her tight and told her again. Yellow blue bus.
“Yes, okay,” she said. “Very nice.”
But she will know. I have four weeks to show her. I cannot take away grief, or past hurt. But I can listen. And I can love her. I already do.
Tomorrow, I will say Ya lyublyu tebya. Yellow blue tebya. It means I love you, family member.
Yellow blue. Yellow blue so much.