Tuesday, September 10, 2013

6 months home.

Well, it's been six months.  I had no idea what to expect at this point.  I didn't know if the girls would be able to speak much English, if they would still be in emotional turmoil, if our family would feel completely turned upside down, or if we would be in the thick of it.  And I have to say that six months has completely exceeded my expectations.

Six months ago we were in China with so many unknowns and two very scared little girls.  And honestly, two pretty scared parents too.  We felt overwhelmed.  We wondered if we were up to the task ahead of us.
Walking back to our hotel room in China.  Tears and anger followed right after this image was taken.

We even wondered why we had pushed SO hard to do something so emotionally difficult.    We were grateful for very clear answers to prayers in the months before that had made it very clear that these were our daughters.    The Lord didn't wonder - he knew and he was more than willing to still our trembling hearts and feeble knees.

Esther during one of our sightseeing tours.

Pearl at the local government office.
When we got home we were relieved though for months we were emotionally exhausted - we could never completely relax because we knew the girls couldn't.  We knew they still needed so much love, attention, and healing to come from our hands.  We were glad to give it but it meant we were often drained and had very little left for each other.  A friend asked me how things were going and when I told her that we were barely holding on she replied, "Really!?  I thought this was supposed to be a happy time."  A little embarrassed I tried to explain how tired we were and why.

But the time passed.  The girls felt more and more safe.  The opened up, they learned more english, and we learned how to better love them.    We made memories, the girls shared stories from their pasts as did we, and we gave lots and lots of hugs and kisses.  The girls saw doctors - loads of them.  ENT's, neurosurgeons, dentists, you name it.  Esther had surgery on her back because it turned out she had a tethered spinal cord.  We enjoyed summer and then started school again.
Brothers and sisters!

Esther's surgery - what a champ.

Backyard campout and the lazy days of summer.

First day of school for the five oldest.

About two weeks ago I realized I wasn't scared anymore.  I wasn't scared that Esther might get upset or that something we said might bring some pain up for them.  I wasn't scared that they were unhappy or that they wanted to go back.  I just wasn't afraid anymore.  Home was home again.    We are happy.  Things have become a new normal.  The girls English is amazing, they are happy, and they are willing to let us help them work through their past trauma and pain.  We are grateful for the support we received through the difficulty in the journey before we brought them home and after.  There were many that played such vital roles in bringing my girls to me.  Many of you reading this were one of them.

I love these girls with all my heart.
Six months home.
By far, the greatest joy comes from teaching the girls their worth.  In China they were on the lowest rung of the social ladder - they are girls, they were orphans, and they have physical deformities so each of them knew that their life would be miserable - especially Esther.  She told me last week that she knew she would never be happy - that she had accepted that.    And now, Michael and I have the privilege of teaching them that they divine daughters of God.  That they are queens - and the Lord told us that they are a gift to our family.  They are of infinite worth and value not only to us but even more to a Father in Heaven who was also watching over them.  He was mourning over the terrible things that happened to them and orchestrating their journey to their eternal family.  It is like watching someone awaken from a bad dream.  Both girl's spirit's recognize these eternal truths and their eyes light up at the knowledge that life is meant for joy and that they will be partakers of that.  The sweetness of those truths and the spirit whispering to your heart that God loves you is such a sweet and filling experience.  I am reminded of a story in the Book of Mormon where a prophet named Lehi has a dream in which he sees a tree with a fruit symbolizing the love of our Savior:
And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.

The sweetness and joy that comes from loving our girls(and our boys) and teaching about who they are is immeasurable. I can absolutely say that if there were such a thing as time travel I am positive I would jump in that time machine and race back to the day I saw the girls photos and say, "Do it! These are your daughters! You will find such immense joy in loving them!" There is no doubt in my mind that there were angels saying those very things.

Our Father in heaven loves these girls.  He loves you too.