Celebrating Forever Family

One year ago today I got out of bed full of expectation and nerves.  A few weeks earlier some girlfriends took me shopping for a special dress.  A dress that I would wear to meet my daughter.  I pulled that blue dress from the suitcase and put it on.  My mind couldn't believe that today was the day, the day to wear the dress, the day to meet my daughter.  It would be the first of a forever amount of days together.

I wondered what she was thinking that morning.  I still wonder with no answers to that one and many more questions in my heart about all the days that proceeded July 16, 2012.  We have gotten bits and pieces of the past.  They come at the most unexpected times.  Like most children do, she shares her heart on her timing and in her way and it is usually in a moment when life is swirling.  Any time she mentions the word China I quickly, desperately  ask the other children to quiet down and stop whatever we are doing.   I strain to take in every syllable because I don't want to miss any morsel of information from her memory bank.

It is different adopting an older child.  When we adopted Faith, she was small enough that I could just scoop her into my arms and carry her away.  This time was different.  I approached slowly, cautiously.  I wanted so much to hug her immediately, but realized how scary that could be for her.  We pulled out some bubbles and her face lit up.  The jar of bubbles was a ticket into her world.  And then only moments later that we were escorted out of the building and driving back to our hotel.  And there we were.  The three of us.  She didn't know us and we didn't know her.  It was like being first time parents all over again.  And I can only imagine the chaos going on inside of our daughter.

This past year has been every emotion under the sun.  Our entire family has grown because of our beautiful Chinese princess, including the princess herself.  I truly cannot imagine my life, or our family, without her.  It hasn't been easy at times, but I am thankful for the journey and humbled that God chose me to be Eliana's mother.   She is a gift.  She is a  Judkins... forever.  And today we celebrated that moment with some Chinese food.  Elie said our prayer and then gave us one more story from the past.  She never prayed in China.  The words came matter of fact.  The impact like a ton of bricks in my soul.

We followed up dinner staying up way too late watching our videos from last year.  I haven't opened those up since they were taken.  She is a different person.  It was so encouraging to be reminded of how far we have come.  

And really all of us have changed, including myself.  This week Eliana is attending Vacation Bible School at a local church in our area.   It is the first time she has ever attended anything mainstream...that is, not with other special needs kids.  It hit me last week when I started planning the details for this week.  Would she make friends?  Would she be understood?  Would she be able to participate?  I tried to talk to Kevin about it and just broke down crying.  I cried because I want her to experience life just like every other six year old little girl.  I cried because I don't want her to have to go through any more pain or rejection.  I cried... well... I cried because I am her mama.  And that is where motherhood is crazy because in the pain there is something too beautiful to describe.

Our first night together in China could only be described as horrific.  Tonight as I tucked her into bed I lay beside her and played with her hair.  She calmly looked at me and I told her "I love you" and meant it with every fiber of my being.  I am happy to be on this side of the year beginning year two.  We built a year's worth of memories  and she is now a part of every season in the Judkins household.

Happy One Year Anniversary to our American - Ethiopian - Chinese Family!!  We love you Eliana Hope Judkins!!

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