the difference of being a daughter
November is Adoption Awareness Month. In past years I have spent the last weeks of October planning for Orphan Sunday and other events to raise awareness of the needs of orphans around the world. Time did not allow for those types of activities this year. This year the last weeks of October were spent planning for my daughter's surgery. Rearranging our house. Calling doctors and insurance companies. Going to appointments. Arranging care for the other children. Cooking and filling our freezer with meals. Making sure everyone's love tanks were full for the coming months. And just trying to prepare everyone for the days ahead.
We woke Elie in the early morning hours while darkness still covered everything outside. She found excitement in being awake while all of her siblings slept in their beds. Snuggled up under her new blanket in the back of Daddy's car she was all smiles. We arrived at the hospital right on time and sat waiting for our daughter's name to be called. "Eliana Judkins" Yes. Yes, that is us.
The three of us walked together to the back room. We played together. We laughed together. Kevin and I helped her to change to her hospital gown. She asked a million questions and we answered every one. Every medical professional that encountered us would ask this same question, "Are you mom and dad?" Yes. Yes we are.
And then it all seemed to happen so fast. Our little preparation room was full of people. Eliana decorated her mask with a few stickers and then the anesthesiologist said, "Okay follow me Eliana." Kevin and I blew kisses and shouted i love yous. She marched away with, again, a huge smile on her face. So very, very confident and brave. After she was gone from sight, the tears came. Part fatigue. Part fear of the unknown. And part something that tugged at a memory of the first time I saw her and how our hearts have grown together over the past two years.
During the preoperative phase there are some questions that you are asked over and over again. One of these questions, "Has she ever had surgery before?", weighs heavily on me after this experience. The answer is Yes. Yes, she has had surgery before. She was three and she lived in China. And I don't know how she responded to the anesthesia or the pain medicine or any of it. I only know that the surgery occurred and she was taken to the hospital and then she was picked up after a few days. And I know that she was an orphan. There was no one to answer "Are you the mom and dad?" There was no one who cried when they took her back for the procedure. There was no one who prepared for that day for weeks and packed all her favorite things in her special bag. There was no one asking questions and advocating for her needs. There was no one to hold her hand and stroke her hair when she didn't feel well. There was no one who sat beside her every minute of every day and night as she recovered in the hospital. There was no one because she was an orphan.
Today all of that has changed. This time she is not an orphan. She is a daughter. She is my daughter. And that makes all the difference.