I've spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about her--the idea I had in my head of what kind of kiddo she would when I had just a picture of her, the thoughts I had that first day we met her, the tragedies, the triumphs, the heartache, the frustrations, and the joys we've shared. I've also thought a lot of what she would be like if she was still in her birth country.
When we committed to adopting Mila, we had a single picture of her. A cute, red haired toddler.
We knew she had Cerebral Palsy. The pictures that followed were pictures of her sitting on a mat, holding herself up. A picture of her standing in a stander.
We traveled to Mila's birth country. I remember vividly the day we met her. We were told to sit in a small, storage sort of room, and waited for the orphanage staff to bring her in. They brought her to us in a stroller. An orphanage doctor, and orphanage caretaker, Mila's caseworker, and a translator all stood behind Mila's stroller; observing us meeting our new daughter for the first time...making sure the bond was strong and the match of a family was positive. I remember interacting with Mila, with everyone watching. Mila looked straight through me. My heart sank.
Suddenly all these thoughts, ideas, and images I had in my head had vanished. Just days before we left a friend was swinging with Hannah and commented "Just think, in a few weeks, your sister will be home to ride with you!" His voice played over and over in my head as my heart broke. How did I admit to all the people who followed our blog; who loved us and were anxious for us to bring Mila home, that Mila wasn't the kiddo I thought I was bringing home. The thought of admitting that Mila may never ride that swing with her sister broke my heart.
We took Mila on that first day to have her passport picture taken. The orphanage caretaker and the translator went with us by car to a photo shop. We had her picture taken, then waited in the park across the street while her picture was processed. I sat in this quiet park, Mila on my lap, Doug next to me, looking at my newest daughter. I had seen the look she gave me before. Her look was empty and hollow. It was like she wasn't even there. I remember commenting to Doug that we would love her to the best of our ability, no matter what. At that moment I felt like we were headed down a very different path than what we had with Hannah.
Mila ate from a bottle with a hole in the nipple the size of a pencil. She had no idea how to chew. She didn't know how to interact with the toys we brought for her to play with. We spent a good bit of our time of our visits with her simply loving her, talking to her, cuddling her, tickling her. She was our daughter, no matter what.
We we arrived home in July of 2009, Mila could not hold herself up. She sat in a baby bumbo seat. She sat IN her toy box surrounded and supported by her toys. We had to learn how to be creative. Car seats outside on the back deck, homemade straps in the power wheels so she could ride with her sister.
She LOVES her Grandpa. He is her favorite toy. They lay together and have the greatest adventures--going to the beach, going camping, mountain climbing, all without leaving the house! Mila has a great imagination and comes up with the greatest scenarios.
I am one lucky Mama to have been given such a sweet gift. I could have never imagined that such a small, empty package would turn into such a great treasure. I can't wait for the coming years--an assistance dog, sports, potty training. I'll take each day--the good and the challenging. God didn't ask for me to have great abilities to parent this little girl, he asked me to be available--to be willing. And willing we are.
Mila Rose, we love you.....Stinky Pants....to the moon and back. Happy 7th birthday. I hope you get your entire wish list! (A toy computer, a black car, a tiny ball, a birfday card....Oooooohhhhh.....and balloons!)