(It has taken me a few days to edit this post and get it ready to go live. Reading it makes me shake my head at how things change in so short a time. I feel like I need to include a disclaimer: Adoption is not a linear process. It is more like riding a roller coaster. The highs are high and the lows go really low. One minute everything is wonderful and the next minute the bottom falls out. The pattern with Claire seems to be to draw close, make strong steps forward, and then regress for a while. It's okay. Just don't assume that a positive post means we have arrived and don't need your prayers any more. Moods are like the weather around here: changing minute to minute.)
I feel like I've been walking around wearing my "totally dumbfounded" look the last couple of days. I catch myself whispering, "Thank you, Jesus" about a hundred times a day. I am just in awe of the changes I'm seeing, and my heart soars at the privilege God gave to me when He chose me to be Claire's mother.
I'm sure that most people won't really get why the things I'm going to share are a big deal. Even Kelly, who listens carefully, still wears an expression that shows how glad he is that I'm happy, but he isn't really sure why these things are making me so glad. Maybe you have to be with Claire 24/7 to understand.
To me, it feels like I'm watching one of those time-lapsed photography clips of a flower poking up out of the ground and growing into something beautiful. I'm just filled with wonder at each little change God brings about.
Frame by frame the changes are coming:
- She slept through the night in her own bed, in her own room, with me in my own bed in my own room. Just one night. But, hey, now I know it can happen.
- When we put up the Christmas tree, she wanted "four people" to make a picture in front of it to send to Dan "right now." The tree wasn't even decorated. She was happy and she wanted her family to share with her.
- She went to the bathroom by herself. Really. She went in the other room alone. She wiped, flushed and washed her hands all by herself. (Yes, I was spying—and crying with joy.) It has only happened once, but I know it is possible.
- She played with toys! Real play by herself, not just helping one of us build with blocks, or dress the doll. She used Dan's old tool kit and spent hours putting in the screws and bolts and sawing the board. She played with the cash register. She found an old camera and walked around taking pictures of everything and talking about her shots. She even went outside without me (YES!!!) to take some pictures of the flowers in front of the house.
- She colored a paper ear of Indian corn the librarian gave her. NOT the usual scribbly-scrawls that look like a baby snagged someone's crayon, but real coloring. Ten minutes of real coloring. Solid. Beautiful. Finished.
- She watched a toddler video I checked out from the library. Not just glancing at it, but really watching, even singing along and doing the motions. She didn't just look for 5 minutes or less and move on, or zone out and sit with her tongue hanging out and drooling like usual. She watched for a whole 20 minutes til it was done! And, (this is huge) she let me go get the clothes out of the dryer without following me because she was interested in her video. Not only did she have some attention span, but she actually talked about things in the video with me when it was done!
- While I was cleaning her room today, she got bored. Instead of following around 6 inches from me, she walked into her room, found a coloring book on the shelf, found her crayons in the box, and went into the living room. When I finished cleaning, she was busily coloring a picture. She colored the whole thing. A giraffe. A bear. A penguin. Mostly in the lines. Mostly realistic colors. I don't know what happened to the girl who just picked a random crayon and scribbled big lines over the whole page and said she was done. I'm glad she has grown. I'm glad she is enjoying her coloring and is proud of her work.
- She identified herself today. "My name is Claire Robinson." Then she proceeded to go down the list of our family members, noting that the "Robinson" part is the same. We are the same as her. She was so happy to identify with our family.
- She came up to me in the kitchen, put her arms around me and said, "I love you." Oh my. I've heard those words over and over. She ended all our Skype calls with them. She repeats them every time I tell her that I love her. The words are just a routine. Something someone told her to say to her parents. But this time, it was different. There was no prompt, no audience, no external reason to say those words. She wasn't trying to get anything, or stop me from doing anything. She hugged me, and allowed me to hug her back. It was only for a moment, but it sure was a sweet moment.
A miracle moment. The kind that will carry me through the rough patches. The kind that makes quiet songs of praise well up in my heart. The kind that makes me want to shout to the whole world that God is good and He is doing miracles right under our noses every day!