There's a little girl who calls me mama who turned 12 yesterday. But I didn't bake her a cake, or sing to her as she blew out her candles, or watch her smile from one ear to the other as she opened gifts from her mom and dad and siblings.
Simply because, although I love her as my daughter and she loves me as her mother, the world only recognizes me as her sponsor through a charitable organization. (I guess I should post some kind of "Really Depressing" warning on this one.)
I was prepared for many things when we started our adoption of Daniel, but I wasn't prepared to fall in love with two little girls at his orphanage. Children who aren't adoptable because they have an aunt who visits a few times a year. (This aunt loves them dearly but is a very young single lady and can't afford to adopt them herself. We asked the girls if they wanted us to help their aunt to financially be able to care for them and they cried that they didn't want to live with her but wanted to be part of our family.)
I wasn't prepared to meet these sisters who would show me that my heart had the capacity to love them as much as I do my biological children. I wasn't prepared to watch them cry as I left from my first mission trip almost three years ago. I wasn't prepared for that love to grow each time we visited (16 times in the past 3 years). And I certainly wasn't prepared to take Daniel to say good-bye to his friends at the orphanage only to face their tears and cries of, "Take me, too! Take me, too!"
I've had some hard days in my life. I've buried a child. I've lost a mother. But trying to explain to two precious girls who I love as daughters why I can't bring them home . . . well, it moved that day last December into the top three of days that I would never want to relive.
I mentioned in a past post here about something we were praying fervently for as a family. It was about these girls. I've cried out to God to move mountains and part seas so they could be adopted, but right now the mountains remain and the seas seem too deep and never-ending. And so I try to move on, knowing that there are 147 million children in the world who are adoptable and desperately need homes. I look at photo listings of precious faces, but can't help thinking "but they aren't Vivi and Eluvia."
And you know that unsettled feeling a mom has when one of her kiddos is at a sleepover elsewhere? I feel that every night because two are always missing. Daniel reminds me on an almost daily basis saying, "Don't forget them, Mom." And I tell him I never will--there's no expiration date on love.
I ask God why. Why out of 450 children from Daniel's orphanage did I fall in love with these two? Perhaps our role was only to be their sponsors. But it doesn't seem to be enough for children whose hearts long for a family.
So this week I've been sad. I looked through photos of a party we gave her when she turned 10. (I'll share those and an amazing story about that party on another day.)
Then I looked at photos of the one we did for her dorm when she turned 11. Our whole crew was there because we spent most of June last year living in Guatemala. Viviana wanted a Hannah Montana party. My girls insisted there must be a blonde wig involved.
This is the only photo I have of us all together. Even though I'm as green as my shirt (I had a bad stomach bug that day), it is one of my favorite photos because our family looks whole.
I couldn't bear the thought of her birthday coming and going without anything. No cake, no candles, no card--nothing different from every other day of the year. I e-mailed our favorite driver in Guatemala who was such a blessing to us during Daniel's adoption and has become our dear friend. I asked if there was any way he could take a cake and some balloons to her orphanage. I attached this photo so he would remember who I was talking about.
(A year ago, he drove us to an amusement park where that photo was taken.)
Well, last night I got these photos. This is what he blessed me with.
Apparently Viviana was allowed to choose a few friends to join her at a picnic table to have some birthday cake. And I was so happy to see they let her little sister (who lives in a different dorm) join her. But the photos are also hard to look at. They've grown up so much in just a year.
I cried happy tears. Happy knowing that she understands that we remembered her birthday and wish we could have been there. I also cried sad tears. Sad knowing what kind of day she would have had here with our family. (Here is the post about Daniel's first birthday home.)
Thanks for letting me cry on your cyber shoulder. I know many of you are adoptive parents who love children that you had to leave behind.
Happy 12th birthday, Viviana--the daughter of our hearts! May you know how loved you are all the days of your life.
Your Sponsor Mama
Still Praying You Home!