I remember Joyce at New Hope telling me how bright and intelligent E was, and how that would surely make her transition difficult."She is a very smart girl", she told me. And yes, those first weeks together were incredibly challenging.
As you all know by now, thumbing through her China pictures nightly is common place. She asks for them daily. Sometimes I sit with her as she turns the pages, sometimes she prefers this time alone. Tonight, I snuggled up next to her and we perused the whole album together (not every photo is in this album as we have somewhere around 200 from her 3.5 years at New Hope).
She usually is fairly quiet during this time. She might say, "See?" and show me a picture, or ask me to kiss one. Not tonight. She was very animated. And without any provocation from me, we talked at length about the next four.
Astounding. How at this age could she remember so well?
Then we arrived at this last photo. This is a nanny that we speak of rarely and so her name always escapes me (and doesn't "match" her American name in the book Hope gave us). So, I ask: "Who is this one E?". She looks me in the eye:
Me: "Oh right. Ya Ya".
E: "No. Ya Ya" (her Y in this case being different than our Y).
Me: "Oh. Ya Ya".
E: "mm-hmm. When Jie Jie go, Ya Ya come".
At this point, I scooped her into my arms to hug her so I could hide my tears. Because this was her night ayi, and Jie Jie was her morning ayi. This was the woman who tucked her to sleep, Jie Jie was there to begin the day with her. They were the nannies closest to her heart. Somehow, in bringing E closer to me, I think I believed I could bring these 2 important people in her life closer to us. Bridge the gap of time and space.
Maybe I shed those tears because I'd missed out on these years with her, I'm not sure. I think mostly I cried because she amazes me and I feel so privileged to share these moments with her. I cried because I never want her to lose those precious memories of those who loved her so completely before we came. I wept because were it not for these special people- her nannies- people I don't know but have come to love fiercely myself- were it not for them, my girl would not be who she is today: affectionate, loving, kind, funny, spirited... happy. Happy deep down in her soul.
And maybe I cried because I wanted to wrap my arms around those who gave me this gift. And because her first parents have no way of knowing that their child not only survived when she shouldn't have, but has lived to tell the stories of her life -
and has thrived living it.