It’s been one year today that we met Selah for the first time. It was such an emotional day for everyone involved. We spent months and months praying for her, and we were over the moon to finally meet her and hold her in our arms. The days following "Gotcha Day" were so emotional that it was hard to really share everything. I remember everything about that day and all of the emotions that went with it. There was the tearful, probably not culturally-appropriate hug I gave to Selah's foster mom. I knew she loved her, and I know it was an impossibly hard day for her. The language barrier didn't allow me to tell her how thankful I was to her for taking care of Selah for a whole year of her life, a year that I desperately wish I could have spent with her. And I will never forget the emotional van ride from the government building where we picked up our children to our hotel. The kids were heart-breakingly crying with such raw emotion that it can never be forgotten. They were driving away from a life, the only life that they ever knew, to a different life; one with different people and a different language and very new experiences.
One year ago we met a scared, tiny little peanut (dressed in many layers of clothing), and when I look at Selah now, I don’t even see that same girl anymore. I see a daughter that is cherished, a sister that plays and fights with her brothers, and a funny, talkative little girl. Selah was constantly in fear when we first met her. She was sick, scared, and barely slept. She was terrified of going to sleep for fear that no one would be there when she woke up. She would scream if anyone even sat on a bed. She tearfully begged to leave in toddler-Chinese wherever we were at. She was afraid when she didn’t have food in her hand that she would go hungry. She had no idea how to play with toys, and the feeling of grass on her feet was completely foreign to her. I am thrilled to say that last night, this little girl who was so scared to fall asleep went to bed in her own bed in her own room last night. This little girl who a year ago never stepped in grass helped me plant our garden today in bare feet; she couldn’t be happier about getting dirt all over her. She understands that we have meal times and snack times, and she trusts that she’ll always have enough food. She’s gained 5 pounds and grown 4 inches. She wants to be a doctor like Doc McStuffins when she grows up. She is smart and extroverted and funny. I only occasionally see the scared face of that little girl we met a year ago, and when I do, I try my best to reassure her and comfort her.
This past year has brought so many changes for Selah. She has blossomed and developed like I couldn’t have ever imagined. This year also changed the rest of the family, too. It’s been year of crazy transitions. Being Selah’s mom has taught me so much about myself; it has revealed all of my weaknesses as a mother and has continually brought me back to Jesus. My control-freak self has finally realized that I cannot possibly do this all on my own. Selah has also taught me to stop focusing on ME. Knowing my daughter was once an orphan had made the orphan crisis and poverty so much more real to me. They aren’t just faceless people on the other side of the world anymore. These people are loved dearly by God, just like Selah. Levi and Ezra are also changed. They are still little, but their worlds are so much bigger than they were before. Levi has become a sweet, thoughtful boy who thinks about others. He talks about how some kids don’t have the things that we do, and he wants to help. Ezra had a difficult transition giving up his youngest child position in the family. A year ago, he was digging a hole to China in the backyard to take Selah back. And today, when we were celebrating Selah’s Gotcha Day, he said, “I love Selah as much as God loves the world.”
As crazy as this past year has been, transitioning to a family of five, doctors and social worker visits, potty training TWO toddlers, job changes, getting SO little sleep, and finishing an EdD degree, when I look at Selah today, happily playing with her dolls, singing the songs from Moana all while wearing a glittery princess dress, I can only think about how truly blessed we are. Happy one year family day, Selah! We will thank God every day for you!
All National Parks: Our Travel Bucket list
X Acadia National Park