The Sweetest Christmas Story – part 5

And now comes the part of the story that is hard to remember.

When sweetness turned to sadness.

After days of spending time with my little girl

the day came when I needed to say good bye.

Or until next time.

This adoption involved two trips to Russia.

So I had to leave her to await an invitation to come back to take her home.

I knew that day that the time was drawing close.

I played with Jenny and sipped more tea.

Talked to her and she studied my face with her serious gaze

when suddenly the orphanage worker came into the room,

reached down and took her by the hand

and led her away.  Abruptly.

I watched in surprise thinking that she would bring her back.

It was earlier than I had expected. But that was it.

When I asked questions I just was given head shakes and nods.

Realizing that I wouldn’t see her for weeks and wondering if anyone had explained

what was to happen to this little two year old

I hurriedly left the orphanage and bought a smiling stuffed bear

and brought it back.

Please, please give this to her. Tell her it’s from her Mommy

and that I will come back and get her.

Then with a heavy heart I was driven away from the orphanage that afternoon

and put on the train to Moscow.

It was hard to push away my thoughts and to prepared myself to fly home.

Feeling so empty without my little one

but excited to get home to my oldest daughter

jumbled me.

But deep inside I knew His loving care and trusted His timing.

Today? This was the day before Christmas.

The farther I got from the orphanage the better I felt.

So with the beginnings of excitement I boarded the airplane to fly home.

Home.

I could hardly wait.

I imagined the joy of being with my daughter and family.

It would be good. And with those thoughts I drifted off to sleep.

Before I knew it we landed Amsterdam

and were informed that due to a snowstorm in the States

we were all being put up in the hotel

for the night.

My heart sank. It couldn’t be. It was almost Christmas and I had promised to be home.

For a long time I stood at the desk searching for some plane,

any plane to get me back to the States.

Anything closer than Amsterdam.

But again and again was told there was nothing.

Slowly I walked the hall and found my room.

How would I possibly break the news to my daughter?

With sadness I placed a call and shared my disappointment.

No matter how hard I tried, there was no way that I’d be home for Christmas this year.

I remember well that phone call and telling her.

Memories of shared tears.

Memories of hearts wanting to be together after long days of separation.

As I placed the receiver down on the phone

my tears flowed.

Lord, I need you.

Adoption is never easy.  For me, it always was a walk of faith.

Trusting the Lord’s timing. Resting in His Plan. Embracing His Love.

But on this  night so many years ago

I remember crying myself to sleep.

Alone.

One daughter still in Russia without her mommy.

My other daughter in Virginia without her mommy.

Alone.

But in the darkest hour, He was there.

Comforting a weary mother who was alone on Christmas.

The next day I flew home to a wonderful, although belated Christmas celebration.

It would be a few weeks until I got the notification that I could return for my youngest.

God’s timing.

His plan.

My peace.

 

The Sweetest Christmas Story- part 4

My days were spent visiting my soon to be adopted little girl,

sipping hot tea in the big conference room and playing simple games with her.

At first she was very shy and kept her beautiful eyes with those long eyelashes lowered.

But gradually she began to meet my eyes for just a second

before looking down again at what she was doing.

A dish of hard candy was on the table and from time to time

I offered her little bits of sweets.

This went on for a few days – morning and afternoon.

At the same time halfway around the world

my oldest daughter was counting the days.

Waiting,

waiting for me to fly home on Christmas eve.

What do you do for Christmas? I asked the orphanage workers.

I knew their Christmas was in early January and I wondered how they celebrated in the orphanage.

The kind workers shook their head and mentioned one word. Orange.

An orange? I asked.

Carefully they explained that each child got one orange. That was their Christmas gift.

It was and still is hard for me to imagine getting one orange for Christmas.

That’s all.

But there were so many children to care for –

the needs were great

they could do so little.

An orange.

And then my thoughts move  forward to that day

when my tiny little dimpled darling

came into the big conference room

tightly holding an orange in her small hands.

She walked over to where I was sitting.

I stooped toward her knowing that this was her Christmas gift.

Her only Christmas gift.

She tightened her grip on that orange

clearly showing me that she was not about to share it. No way.

Halfway around the world we celebrate with toys and food a-plenty.

My heart longed to do more,

to give more

to share of all that I had with  all the children in that orphanage.

That day at the end of our visit

Jenny walked with the orphanage worker to the big gray door

still gripping her orange in her hands.

Little did she know that in a few weeks I would be coming back

to take her home

to her forever family. And ten thousand oranges.

Yes, I see oranges with new eyes these days,

They seem almost insignificant here

but in many places around the world

they represent plenty and abundance.

In a world that struggles with poverty, disease and extreme hardships

it often takes so little

to make a big difference.

Thoughts of those orphans holding their oranges

cause my heart to ache with sorrow.

Lord, open our eyes.

Help us to see what You see.

Teach us to love. And to give.

Soon I would be leaving Kostroma to fly home to the States.

But this image would stay with me

forever.

 

 

The Sweetest Christmas Story —part 3

With a burst of excitement the long waited adoption of Jenny took off.

Tickets were bought. Suitcases packed and before I knew it I was flying to Moscow.

Looking back today many years later I marvel at how smoothly it all came together.

But as always

when it’s right…it’s right.

It was difficult to sleep on the long flight to Moscow.

Memories of my first adoption came to mind

but no matter how you get a child

each time is different- each experience is laced with the sacred fingerprints of God.

After exiting the uneventful flight I connected with my Russian facilitator,

grabbed my luggage and got in his car.

Today I smile remembering the scene –

a cold late afternoon in December riding along on my way to Kostroma

talking as if we’d known each other for years.

The hours passed quickly as I watched the snow falling.

Would we make it all the way to the orphanage?

“Da”, he nodded. Nothing would keep us from making it to the orphanage.

But late in the night the mounting snow caused me increasing concern.

I’ll never forget the moments when we stopped at a small, rustic restaurant

that seemed in the middle of nowhere.

It was almost  like walking into a children’s fairytale.

Deep snow abounded outside

but inside there was music and laughter and colored lights of Christmas.

A warm fire was blazing in the fireplace and we sat and ordered a simple meal.

At that moment

although halfway around the world from all things familiar

I was at home.

The peace that God gave was real and it was as if He graced me with an evening of wonder.

But all too quickly we headed out into the wintry scene and continued the drive to Kostroma.

Our conversation slowed as we both tried to see through the snow.

I marveled that he managed to follow the narrow two lane road.

In the early hours of morning we drove into Kostroma .

I found my way to a hotel room and freshened up

as I prepared to meet my soon to be adopted little girl.

Then suddenly I found myself sitting in a big room at the orphanage.

Alone. Waiting. Waiting some more.

Then  I heard a sound and turned my head as the door opened.

There stood the tiniest little girl.

I caught my breath

and looked up into the face of my facilitator.

“She’s so small.”

And she was.

Born very premature weighing 1 ½ pounds she was a survivor now at two.

I held out my arms and scooped her into them.

We often speak of love at first sight

and this was my second time when that was my experience.

A mother knows her child. There is no other explanation for it.

Suddenly my heart that had waited so very long for this little one

was overflowing with joy.

But there would be more hurdles to cross before I could bring her home.

And I will tell you about the importance of one orange.