One year ago today, Mark and I walked into a conference room in the Gloria Hotel in Nanchang, China, and found little Phoebe looking very alone in the lap of a nanny who was a stranger to her. I lifted her into my arms, and took her into my life forever.
I think of those early weeks and months, when we thought that Miranda's Laurie Berkner DVD of kids music was just too much stimulation for this overwhelmed child to handle. If we were out of the house for an hour or two, I was eager to get home. We hunkered down. We refused to let anyone hold her but us. I snuggled with Phoebe in the Ergo while Miranda jumped away in the moon bounce on the Common. Phoebe cried herself to sleep, awoke from naps with shrieks, and slept between us at night. Visitors came to us, and all the usual summer trips and travels were off. We were busy doing much of nothing-- just being close, learning to trust each, and becoming family.
Gradually we added more action, and Phoebe now says "no home" when we call an end to hours of outdoor play. Today, she shouted in that very loud Phoebe voice "Hi, Steve!" to the neighbor as we headed for ice cream, and loudly declared, "I LIKE Captain Dusty ice cream." I-- her mother-- still sees hints scars from too many transitions in her early years, but overall she is a healthy, happy kid who trusts her parents and adores her sister. Yesterday we gathered with about ten of the families who shared our trip to China with us. One year is a tremendous time in the life of any small child, but these children demonstrate more than normal development changes. Whereas one year ago they had fear, doubt, and uncertainty, now they have confidence, trust, and love. Not to mention shiny hair, smooth skin, and chubby thighs.
Today we celebrate one year together, and just two days after that we will call an end to our year of laying low. We are moving-- just two miles away, but still, a move it is. We'll pack all that we call ours into boxes and unload it in our new home. We'll find new neighbors, new playgrounds, new story hours at the new library, a new YMCA, and new little friends. I think of how distressed Phoebe was months ago when we disassembled the cribs to make room for big girl beds, and I worry a little bit about how she will take it. But at the same time, I feel like it is time. I hope that through this transition Phoebe will learn that while many things around her change, her family does not. We go with her. Always.