Monday, April 22, 2013

Westward Expansion Birthday Hiatus

While we are in the middle of our Westward Expansion Excursion, we have a lovely daughter who is celebrating her 15th birthday.  After years of sending packages half way around the world to both Angela and Olesya, and receiving photos of smiles with a hint of sorrow and loneliness reflected in their eyes, every single birthday with our daughters is precious.  We missed so many, something I truly wish we could have changed.  So, I am taking this evening to write a post to Angela, one she won't be reading just yet but will one day.  For those following along on our trip, don't worry, we have few pictures to post about the past couple of days anyway.  The vast open spaces of Iowa and South Dakota coupled with an incredible amount of heavy, left us with a few small discoveries, and we'll share them tomorrow.  Tonight though, is Angela's night.

Dear Angela,

Tonight we celebrated your 15th birthday in a hotel room in South Dakota, smack dab in the middle of one of your favorite things to do...take a road trip.  There was no big party, and only a couple of small gifts, but you were happy as we sat around eating the cheesecake you requested and opened your pretty pink packages we had snuck into the van a week ago.  I managed to forget one thing though, birthday candles, and we wandered the store looking for some and I said, "Man, I can't believe I forgot the candles!!  How could I forget that?", you put your arm around my shoulder and said, "Oh Mom, that doesn't matter.  You show me your love every single day. Who cares about a candle?  I'd rather have that every day than a candle just on my birthday."  We finally did find candles, but I loved your sentiment.

This past week, as you looked forward to your birthday, we sat in hotel rooms and watched as terror reigned, and tragedy struck.  The bombing of the Boston Marathon and the subsequent chase of the suspects ending in a rain of bullets, then the many deaths caused by the exploding  fertilizer plant in West, Texas were events that dominated the news.  Corruption abounds, futures look bleaker and bleaker, and seldom do you hear anything promising about our world as hope seems to be in short supply.

And then, I think of you...and hope suddenly seems alive and well.  Angela, you may not realize it, but it is young people like you who will be changing our world for the better.  As I have received dozens of private emails about your wise sharing about adoption, as I sit across a dinner table from you and Kenny and we have passionate conversations about the effects and causes of poverty or racism, when I see you reaching out in quiet ways to friends who are hurting, or encouraging those who are feeling low, I see someone who is poised to do something powerful to make an impact on the world.  I can't wait to see what that is, and how you touch the lives of people around you.

You have an amazing heart, and an intuitive sense well beyond your years.  But mostly, you have the courage of your convictions, and that is an exciting combination to see in someone.  You also remind us of hope in light of the deepest despair, as we recall our first days together and how close we came to losing the family that is before us today, a family that would never be complete without you and Olesya.   You are a living example of what forgiveness and grace on two sides can reap, of what patience and prayer can bring.  You have the input of so many amazing people that are adding to and enriching your life in ways Dad and I alone never could.

Thank you for embracing me as your true mom, something most in your position might never have the strength to do.  Your Dad and I, and your brothers and sister all love you very, very much and always will.  Keep exploring, keep on allowing yourself to be whoever you need to be at any given moment, be it the Wise Old Woman or the Young Tween.  You already know your older self will emerge permanently when she is good and ready, so you don't have to worry about enjoying what is left of your childhood.

Happy Birthday, Angela.

Love forever,

Mom and Dad

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

Happy Birthday Angela. May the year ahead be filled with excitement, joy and fulfillment for you.