I wondered how this would affect her. We rehearsed over and over..."We are all going to California, we are all going to play at the beach, and we are all coming home together."
Over and over we reassured her that she could safely be excited about going on an airplane with Mommy and Daddy.
So we went. She smiled as she buckled her baby doll into her seatbelt. (Remember this? We've come a long way, baby!) I took a photo and marveled at what I was witnessing. We flew, we landed, grandparents and a cousin met up with us. We flew and landed again...and then we vacationed like nobody's business.
It. Was. Fabulous.
I heart SoCal weather, I'm just sayin'.
Katie learned to surf, Gracie built masterpiece sandcastles, Drew threw sand...and whatever else ended up in his meaty little hands, DJ boogie-boarded, and Mama? Well, I got myself a tan. :)
Mari played happily in the sand all week, testing boundaries occasionally, but she IS four. So no big deal. We had one incident when she nearly stepped into traffic just because she wanted to go the opposite direction from where she was told, but thankfully we stopped her and Daddy stepped in to make sure she understood that she must obey the details...if we say go out this door of the car, it is for a very good reason! (#1 being her safety!)
We ended the week relaxed and rested...ok not really. Let's just say those college students in the condo next door can PARTAY into the wee hours. I must be getting old. But we arrived home safely and I again saw another layer peel away from my daughter. Because we all went to California, we all played on the beach, and we all came home together.
She has been so much easier to deal with since.
I knew attachment was a process, but it really is remarkable to experience it. It happens day-by-day, layer-by-layer of trust. The emotions wax and wane, but they are always on an upward trend of growth. I have those moments when I sit back and think about what has transpired in 9 months and I am speechless. She is not the same child I brought home. She has grown in every way. Challenges? Yes, we have them, but not nearly to the degree we had them 9 months ago. My love for her deepens with every milestone, every smile, every time I hear her say "I want to go home" because she means home. Our home.
Last night, my husband read to our children and the kids took turns praying afterwards. Sweet Drew (age 4 and not given to accurate details!) decided to recount Mari's story to God...in his own way. He has been talking lately about how he is going to grow up and go to Africa and help kids find their mommies (meaning he will help kids get adopted). So he said "Kids in Africa don't have mommies and Mari doesn't have a mommy so I'm gonna help them find one." (Meaning kids LIKE her don't have mommies.)
Mari looked at him quizzically, then looked at me and said "I have a mommy."
"Yes, you do. You have a mommy and a daddy and brothers and sisters!" I said.
She smiled the biggest smile...a smile of satisfaction and joy. My heart leapt with the knowing on her face.
She is found. She belongs.