My dearest Sylvie,
You have rounded another milestone, my girl. You have officially been on this earth for four years.
When I pause and allow myself to reflect on all that you have endured in your short life, I’m struck speechless.
You, Sylvie, are the bravest little soul I have ever known.
The thing is, you didn’t ask for any of this. You didn’t ask for this narrative – this life of a former orphan who ended up across the globe in a crazy white family in small-town America. Yet, you have embraced your story in a way I’m not sure I could have had I been in your shoes. If I suddenly found myself abandoned, afraid and alone, then ripped from the only world I knew, I honestly do not know if I would be full of grace and sincere joy the way you are. I don’t know if my eyes would light up with laughter the way yours do. I don’t know if I would be able to give and receive love the way you do or if my heart would be left deadened from the searing pain of loss.
Loss is inherent to this beautiful story of adoption. It’s just part of the deal. I could never have gained the precious treasure of you as my daughter without extreme loss first taking place. That’s the ugly, heart-wrenching, broken part of the story. Yet, the rest of the story is still left to be written. There are all of these blank pages just waiting to be filled. And, I have no doubt that God is going to do BIG things through your story. He has given you this unmistakable zest for life – you are a bright, bright light, my girl.
As I watch you blow out your candles and make your birthday wish, I can’t help but think back to the birthdays we spent apart. How desperately I wanted to be there for this very moment.
You had no way of knowing how deeply you were loved and wanted as you sat in that orphanage, all alone, on a inconspicuous day in January of 2012. It was the 16th of the month. Your very first birthday. From a world away, we held a somber celebration in your honor. The injustice of that day still sends me reeling. My heart longed to whisk you away from your bleak reality. You should have been showered with kisses and we should have been together to mark the occasion with your very first bite of sweet cake. Based on your dislike of getting your hands dirty when we met six months later, I would guess you wouldn’t have created the typical one-year-old smash cake mess. You would have held a tiny fork and taken great care to eat each crumb and dollop of icing.
You had no way of knowing that there was a family across the sea desperate to be with you as you celebrated your second birthday with your new foster family. You couldn’t understand that mommy and daddy sent those little gifts and that sweet princess candle atop your beautiful cake. It was our meek effort to be there. To be a part of your day. We shed happy tears as photos of your sweet celebration arrived via email. We rejoiced knowing you were no longer alone. Seeds of love were being planted in your heart.
I cannot put into words how deeply, deeply grateful I am that we no longer have to spend your birthdays apart. You now have a family to celebrate you and a momma to embarrass you as I take too many photos and a daddy to cover your little face in kisses. You now have brothers to feign disinterest in all things princess and contemplate whether or not to eat a princess cake. (They will, they’ll always eat the cake no matter how pink the icing is). You now have a little sister to adore you and look up to you as she learns her own way in this world by walking in the footprints you leave behind.
My girl. You have been grafted into our hearts. You are a beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin. Family is no longer an abstract idea. You have a family. A family who loves you with a ferocity beyond compare. We literally went to the ends of the earth for you, my little lovebug. Momma is so afraid of airplanes (so, so afraid) yet, I would fly every day for forever to get to you.
We have all fought for this. This family of ours. Family. It didn’t come easily for any of us. But we did it. It’s not perfect and it never will be. But I think that’s what makes it so wonderful. This little family of ours is absolutely, positively imperfectly perfect.
And, it wouldn’t have ever been complete without you.
Happiest of birthdays to you, Sylvie-girl.
I love you to the moon and back times one million,