Three. How many Christmases in our home. Three. The number of times you’ve had surgery since coming home. Three. The number of eggs you think makes a perfect breakfast. Three. The number of families you remember belonging to once upon a time. Three. The age you were in your earliest pictures. Three. The number of continents you’ve lived on. Three. The number of birthdays we’ve celebrated with you. Three. The number of years that have passed since you walked out of the orphanage and into our family, forever. Three. Your family age.
Yesterday and today, we celebrate the day you got us and we got you. Some call it gotcha day. But really, it is so much more than that. It is the celebration of lots of ugly and a million more times beauty, hard goodbyes, new beginnings, learning to love each other, trying to understand life, creating memories, embracing sorrow and past pain, doing really tough things, acknowledging our own need for one another, extending grace, and so much more.
These are the pictures that first captured my heart.
Others came and we saw glimpses of your incredible spirit.
Then we met you. And, I thought my heart would explode. You were full of energy, inquisitive, excited, and yet we saw fear in your eyes. We had been preparing for you, but you weren’t so ready for us. You were unsure, uncertain about these strange people who had walked into your life.
I saw the depth of hurt and sadness when you said goodbye to your second home. It may have been an orphanage, but to you it was home. Your sweet friends shared life with you and you gave them part of your heart.
Even with the struggle, you were excited to meet your sisters.
It was a beautiful moment.
And, it has been an amazing journey ever since.
Three. It is a time to reflect and a time to celebrate. A time to be thankful for the past and hopeful for the future. Three. It seems short and yet I can’t believe so much time has come and gone. Three. Years of lessons learned and a reminder that we have many more before us.
I wish you understood how amazing these three years have been for us. I wish you knew the way you inspire us to never quit. I wish you knew how much we long to understand and help you deal with life’s struggles, both past and present. I wish there was no sorrow in your smile when we talk about Ethiopia. I wish pain had never been a part of your life. I wish trust and safety were never problems your heart and mind encountered. But, I’m thankful, too. Thankful for three years of smiles which continue to grow more frequent. Three years of learning what a family is and that even with mistakes, we can laugh often. Three years of mischievous grins and funny bits of conversations. Three years of learning to work and play together.
I’m reminded that one day three will turn to four and the numbers will continue to grow. You won’t always be my little Hanissa that longs to be cuddled and rocked. So for today, I’ll take a moment and just enjoy the feeling and knowledge of all that is bound up that little number three.