I can hardly believe it's been a year since I first held my baby girl! On one hand, it feels as if I blinked, and the time was gone. On the other hand, I look at the progress she has made in a year, and I'm astonished that she could learn so much in just 12 months.
Last year, on this night, I was sitting in a little guest house room in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, staring across the room at this beautiful and TINY stranger who was my daughter. I felt awe and wonder and fear and confusion all at once.
Tonight, I have conflicting emotions again. On one hand, I feel utter gratitude. Earlier, I stood for a moment and stared at this little girl that I now know inside and out and thanked God for the gift of her in our lives. I can't explain how I've been changed in the past year. People tell us all the time what a wonderful thing we've done for Ellie. The truth is that SHE is the one who has done something for us. It's not unlike the changes I went through when Bryan first came into this world. He changed so much about who I am. Ellie has been no different, for sure. I'm not the same person I was on August 9th, 2009.
On the other hand, I sit here tonight feeling complete thankfulness and some sadness for Ellie's birth mother, Tigist. I wish I could sit and have a cup of coffee with her and tell her that her baby girl is fine now. I wish I could show her that she is no longer too thin, that she has plenty to eat and clean water to drink. I wish that she could have heard Ellie singing "How Great is Our God" today on the way home or watched her dance around the table in her tutu tonight before bed. I wish she could hear Ellie say, "I love you mom" to her. She must wonder about her; I know she loves her. I could see it in her eyes one year ago today when I had the privilege of meeting her. I wish that I could tell her all of the funny things that Ellie does. I wish I knew if Ellie cocked her head to the side when she was thinking hard because that what Tigist does.
Ellie knows the story of her birth mom, at least what she can understand for now. She looks at her picture and smiles brightly, exclaiming "that's my other mommy!". I love that! There is no jealousy at all in me when she asks about her. I'm forever indebted to this beautiful lady across the world, and I'm thrilled to teach Ellie about the beautiful sacrifice she made out of love.
Lest anyone gets the wrong idea, today was certainly not a sad day in our home! We let Ellie pick the place for dinner (McDonald's of course!), then came home to have a tea party with the cupcakes Ellie made last night. She also had a celebration with her friends at daycare as she took them cupcakes too! There were balloons (her favorite) and a new tutu for a present! We celebrate that she is home with us forever! We celebrate that her story is the story of what God does for all of us when He redeems us and brings us into His family.
Thank you Abba, for adopting me as your daughter. Thank you for using our journey to bring Ellie home and this precious year with her, to remind me every day of your unimaginable love for all of us. Thank you that your plan is to never leave any child alone, that you desire to set the orphan in families. Thank you for choosing us, for choosing me, and for letting me rejoice in the gift of this sweet sweet family you've given to me.
Happy Gotcha Day Ellie! I'm so glad you're my girl! We love you... forever and ever and ever.