Friday, February 6, 2009

Are You Happy?

Hope, Mom, and Odell on Odell's Birthday

Sunnie and Hope at Chili's After Church

Sunnie Is A Blessing to Hope

“Are you happy”? Hope asks me this usually within a few minutes after I have had to reprimand her for something. Right after she says “I’m sorry”, “I didn’t mean to”, or “I won’t do again, I promise”, with a bright, imploring little smile she asks, “Are you happy”?

Every day our hearts are touched by the multitude of little idiosyncrasies that living the first three years of her life in an orphanage has left Hope with. I want to hug her and tell her, and drill it into her psyche that it is not her job to make us happy. And that our disciplining of her in no way lessens our love and devotion to her. She is too young to understand that so I tell her, “It doesn’t matter if I’m happy, I will always love you. Even when I am sad because you have disobeyed, I will always love you.”

Now that Hope is getting more command of the English language she is beginning to voice some fears and worries that I suppose were there all the time. It may be also, that these worries are surfacing as she is getting over the trauma of leaving all that she had ever known and coming into a new culture, a new home, and family.

Often, out of the blue, she will say, “Momma gon’ leave me, Daddy gon’ leave me.” This is our cue to say, “No! No way! We will never leave our Hopie” and give her a big hug. She is then satisfied and we may not hear her say that for another day or two.

When we sit down to eat she will say, “Are you gon’ eat all that”, pointing to the noodles, or the chicken or something that she likes. We respond, “No, we’re just eating part of it”. Her next phrase is, “Save me some, save me whole, whole bunch.”

The vast majority of the time Hope is overflowing with joy and happiness. She loves play of all sorts. For a while it was her barn, farm animals, trucks and trailers. Now it is her babies, a collection of about six assorted baby dolls that she mothers and sometimes fathers. She will put them in her baby stroller which she has had me tie to her tricycle and transport them to school, to Walmart, etc.

She loves role playing and oftentimes she is “Daddy”, I am “Baby” or “Momma”, and Becky is “Grandma”. Becky is getting tired of being “Grandma”. Hope will sometimes act out in play some event that happened recently, including where the babies commit an offense that causes her to put them in timeout. She sets the imaginary timer and the baby has to sit on the couch until the timer dings a few seconds later.

I could go on and on, but time doesn’t permit. We share some of these things to record for our benefit and for the benefit of friends in the blogosphere who are working on adoption whether internationally or in country. These are things that you might have experienced or might prepare for. Words cannot express the joy that has come to us in this process. We wish that every orphan could experience adoption and that every family could know the joy that comes to those who are privileged to be an adoptive family.


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