Monday, April 18, 2011

Aleksandra Elise: (8) The Quiet of a Storm

Kel and I sat in the hard plastic seats in the terminal and were without thought as rain pounded the massive glass wall at Sheremetyevo International  Airport. There were thousands of people, but we were the only two who were not standing in various winding lines. We speculated that Russians must like standing in lines, or perhaps it was a leftover part of culture from Soviet rule. The life of the average citizen appeared very hard. With nearly no middle class in Moscow, you either had wealth or you had poverty.
Norwegian Sea from our 747

I remember sitting in silence until our flight was called out in Russian, French, and English.  We were exhausted. We were mentally spent and emotionally drained. We were incredibly happy, heartbroken, and a little insane. After the plane lifted off we were embarrassed by the couple in the next row under the blanket, and nearly driven to violence by the loud and relentless talking woman behind us. She did not stop bloviating from wheels up to wheels down. She was my single worst part of the entire trip. I imagine that somewhere she continues to talk even now.

Nonetheless, we controlled ourselves (at times we had to restrain each other) and we made our way from Moscow, to New York, to Indianapolis, and finally home to the embrace of our parents, our son, and our dogs! We collapsed into the familiar comfort of our home. We held Caleb for hours. We showed him pictures of his sister.

We felt so strongly the pull across the ocean that we feared our hearts would burst.

"When is my sister 
coming home?"
The days crawled by.

We would hear nothing until we got the call that the date was set. And so we forced ourselves back into our routine, but our hearts and thoughts were 5,000 miles away with Tigger, an old Soviet building, and our daughter.

On the night of April 11th, a thunderclap destroyed a transformer and we were without power. I lit a candle and sat in the shadows. My journal had been untouched since our return, my soul had been emptied. But as I looked at the small flame licking the darkness, I picked up the notebook.
"As I pen these characters by torchlight--I can hear the echoes of our pleas to God. To keep Aleksandra held in his hand and shelter her under the shadow of his wing while the moon rises and falls over Russia.  I think of the smiling Dr. who referred to herself as, 'The Orphans Mom.' She cared enough to give me advice on being a father to my daughter. 'A special kind of father is needed for a daughter. A special care, a special handling, a special love.'"
That moment settled into my mind with clarity as shadows rolled across the room like fog. As the candle grew smaller, I again picked up my pen and allowed my soul to spill.

Ready & Waiting
My whole being is ready to travel. The waiting is like listening in the dark. I am aware of every sound, every imagined unknown that slithers just beyond by eyesight and I am acutely aware of the sound of my breathing and every loud second. I am aware of a nearly suffocating need to hold her again. I clench my eyes and I can see her, hear her soft intake of breath, and smell the lotion on her skin and the soap in her hair. I remember holding her up for hours as she learned to bear weight on her bouncing legs. I can still feel the grip of anticipation as I waited for the test results... the conviction and responsibility of knowing that she was our daughter regardless of the outcome. We prayed for these moments. Our lives are forever changed! We have been given accountability of her soul. We did this because our belief that Christ has adopted us compels us. We are fearfully thankful. We are speechless. We are undeserving and honored. We withheld our shouts of joy, but cannot stem back the tears as our souls erupt through these mortal shells. The salvation of my life was my adoption by God. How could I not do otherwise?
Many beautiful dresses!
I sat there without moving, the pen clutched in my hand, and I noticed my tears swelling the ink on the paper. When did they fall? As the night passed, the wick slowly dwindled to drown in the wax and cover the room with its cloak. I fell asleep yearning to embrace my daughter, be warmed by her spirit, and be re-birthed by her laugh and smile.

No-one would eat the picture!
The days gave way to an acceptance, a hope, and a yearning. Our family held a baby shower and that focused our attention back to what could be done, rather than on all the potential things that could go awry. We checked our arrangements, and checked them again. We readied her room, and we sat in the empty nursery at night, thinking of a little girl in an orphanage on the other side of the world who knew our voices and would soon share our name.

And then... finally, the phone rang.
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