As I visited Sofi every day, my sweet husband (who stayed home to keep the home fires burning and make sure the kids weren't burning the home down) asked me how Sofi was. He asked me what she was like. We really didn't have a lot of time to talk, so I couldn't really explain it to him in great detail. You see, when I was visiting Sofi, I was in the future as Keoni said. With the time change, I was a half a day ahead of my family. Monday morning was Sunday night to them. It was funny to the kids when I would tell them all about the "future". Ha...the one time I was a fortune teller! Anyway, with the time change, we could only communicate early in the morning for me (which was night for him) and in the evening for me (which was morning for him). But with the business of visiting a certain someone twice daily, and the business of taking care of five boys, we really didn't get to communicate a lot. I did get some great messages from MyApp from Kumaka. He figured out how to send me voice messages....so he sent me twenty at a time. Every. Single. Day. So cute. Because of the very brief communications, I never completely explained to Stuart (until I came home) what Sofi was like. I would like to tell you all a little about Sofi.
What I knew from reading her medical reports was very factual, and minimal. I knew she was premature. I knew she has strabismus (a disorder in which the two eyes do not line up in the same direction and therefore do not look at the same object at the same time), I knew she had hydrocephalus, I knew she had a seizure at birth, I knew she had occipital meningocele. I knew she hadn't smiled, talked, eaten whole foods, crawled or walked, and I knew she was not fond of bathing, dressing, and being in her crib. I knew she didn't really play much with other children and I knew she liked to get attention from adults. I knew that for 2 1/2 years of her life, she lived in a crib. Her body became emaciated, and her muscles became stiff. She never knew what the sun looked like, and she never felt loving hands holding her. She was never given the opportunity to explore, to learn and grow as a baby should. She learned to be silent because no one would hear her cries. What I knew about her was words on paper. One dimensional.
I really didn't know what to think as I contemplated visiting her. I expected a child that couldn't communicate, couldn't understand anything, couldn't move, and didn't have much emotion.
I was beyond wrong. This child is like the brightest star you see in the sky at night. She shines so brightly despite the dark days she had. From the moment she was brought into the room we were in, my heart was captured. She responded to her name, most of the time with a huge smile. She loved being held and allowed me to hold her right away. (I expected her to not want me to touch her because I was a new person...but it did not matter to her. It almost felt like she knew who I was somehow.)
I showered her face with kisses for the whole week. I am sure she's never been kissed that many times in her life.
I held her as much as I possibly could and I would play with the curls in her hair and gaze at the longest eyelashes you have ever seen. I talked to her, I told her about her daddy and her brothers. I let her listen to Stuart's voice and Kumaka's voice and she literally stopped in her tracks and listened intently. After their voices stopped, her face lit up with the biggest smile. I also put music on for her, and discovered that my girl LOVES music. It makes her giggle. Yes....she giggles even. When she is really happy she coo's and when you copy her sounds she smiles as big as possible. Although she struggles with eating, she loves food. The orphanage mashes up regular food and then every day I would feed her while I was there. The consistency was much like oatmeal with different veggies or meat in it. I would have to push her tongue down with the spoon and then angle the food so it would go down her throat. She definitely needs feeding therapy. She doesn't look at one thing for very long, but there were times that a caught her taking a glimpse at me. Those moments were life altering....and when she purposefully put her arm on mine and rubbed my arm back and forth I knew that she knew somehow that we belong together.
By the end of the week, as I was holding her (and holding back my tears), she put her head down and gave my hand an open mouth kiss (the way babies kiss) and repeated that motion about five times. She struggles to make her body do what she wants it to do, but those small moments when she is able to is like a victory to me. When I put her on the blanket, she would move her body side to side, trying desperately to roll over. She's not quite there, but once she's home, she will learn to roll all over the place.
I miss holding her. I miss the surprises I had each day, as I learned something new about her every time I visited her.
I miss kissing her sweet cheek, and watching her face light up with a smile. I miss her hands, her sweet tiny hands. I miss being around her...and feeling the strong spirit that she has despite her surroundings. I miss her.
Surprisingly, the final paperwork is moving along faster than expected. We are awaiting a signature and a court date. When we get our signature, court is usually a couple of weeks after that. Once we go to court, and the judge rules that she is our daughter, we can go bring her home approximately five weeks later. SOFI MIGHT COME HOME BY CHRISTMAS.
There is a catch. It's a small catch. This is where I plead to all of you. As you contemplate all you are thankful for, as you think of your family, your home, your parents, your children, all that you hold dear, think of Sofi. Please, I beg of you, think of Sofi. Remember all I've shared with you. Know how very grateful we are as a family that you all have brought us to this point. Know how amazed we are at the sheer number of people that are a part of this little girl's story. Her story is huge. She is here for a reason. She is supposed to come to our family. I did the math when I wrote my last blog post. If each person who reads this donates $10.00, we would raise $3500. That is over half of what we owe for our final fees. THAT IS VITAL. We cannot go to court without those fees being paid. I am pleading with you all, know that as we tighten up our belts, consider donating what you can. $5, $10, it all counts. IT ALL MAKES A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HER COMING TO HER FAMILY OR STAYING THERE. And as you consider her, know that you are a part of her story. YOU HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF AN ORPHAN. Her life will be forever altered because of you. This Thanksgiving I am grateful that this little girl touched my heart through a picture. I am grateful to have so many family members, friends, and strangers help us bring her home. I am grateful for family, for LOVE, for the desire we had to provide a family for an orphan. As much as her life will change, our lives have changed more and she's not here yet. We are the lucky ones, our hearts will never be the same.