By: Lora Lyon
When we arrived at the orphanage, we were greeted with smiles and a lot of Russian. We didn’t understand, but we smiled and even though we were incredibly nervous, their kindness put us at ease. We were led to the director’s office to sit with our translator and one of the orphanage doctors.
The director had a large file and began to read. She is five years old. She has cerebral palsy. She has lived in the orphanage her entire life.
The door opened.
There stood our daughter.
She looked completely stunned. It seemed she was not aware of what was happening or why, and she regarded us quizzically at first. We were stunned. My mind was literally swimming, I couldn’t remember a single word of Russian I had attempted to learn before traveling. I couldn’t remember how to say hello, or that she was absolutely gorgeous, or, I am your Mama.
Our translator offered to take a photo.
I remembered I had a Disney princess doll in my bag for this moment. I took it out. She gave a small smile. I asked if she wanted to sit on my lap by patting my legs. She nodded yes after some encouragement in Russian from the others. The director and doctor began talking again. I didn’t hear a word. All I could do was stare at the sweet, brown pigtails swishing in front of me. Her perfect little hands turning the doll over and over. The weight of her sitting on my legs. Her missing front teeth. I wanted to absorb every bit of her. I wanted so badly to hold her close, kiss her face, and tell her I would be her Mama forever. That she would never be alone again. I resisted, not wanting to frighten her.
She began to speak. Everyone stopped to listen.
She began to realize what was happening.
You could see it in her eyes, suddenly. The light.
We were there FOR. HER.
She looked up and asked me, “What is your name?” in Russian.
Trying not to cry, I pointed to myself and said, “Lora. Mama.”
She looked straight to Dean, “What is your name?” He told her, “Dean. Papa.”
She looked to the director and smiled the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. “Mama! Papa!”
“I kept asking and asking for you!! Mama? Mama? Mama? When will you come?!?” she said excitedly, according to our translator.
Did we have any questions, they asked. I couldn’t think a coherent thought if I tried. They said we could visit a little and everyone stood up. She took Papa’s hand. Beaming. She led the way because she knew just where we were going. The room, where the children who have Mamas and Papas go to play. The room where she must have seen so many friends go before being adopted, off-limits to the others. Now, after almost six years of waiting….it was her turn to go in, with Mama and Papa by her side.