One year ago today, Arturo and I were in Ukraine, in an appointment at the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy. One year ago today, for the first time we saw a photo of Shanti when she was 8 years old. This is the earliest photo we have of her and is likely the earliest photo we will ever have of her.
Today, Arturo attended an Honor Roll ceremony at Shanti’s school and proudly cheered for our girl, our precious and beloved girl who made the Honor Roll for the first quarter of her 7th grade year.
One year ago today, we were in a bit of a panic. We arrived at our appointment at the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy only to be told that they couldn’t find Shanti’s file. The worker helping us had pulled Shanti’s file the day before to make sure all was in order before our appointment, so she knew it should be there, but still she couldn’t find it. And if she couldn’t find Shanti’s file, we couldn’t accept Shanti’s referral … and if we couldn’t accept Shanti’s referral, we couldn’t adopt her … “panic” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Our facilitator was completely unfazed because she knew it would be just fine and that the file would be found. The worker was frazzled and puzzled, but even she wasn’t all that worried. She had seen Shanti’s file the day before and knew she’d find it if she just kept looking. But Arturo and I — first-time parents in a foreign country navigating the stressful and strange journey called adoption — complete panic. It all did turn out fine, of course, although not until after we had suffered through nearly 3 hours of panic as we were sent away and given a later appointment that day so that the worker wouldn’t get behind and would have time to search for Shanti’s file. We later learned that when the worker pulled the file the day before to check that all was in order, Shanti’s file had inadvertently gotten stuck to the back of another file and then sorted into the wrong cabinet. It took a while, but the worker eventually found it, as the worker and our facilitator both knew she would, and we accepted Shanti’s file without further incident. But my heart still races when I think of the panic I felt that day. One year ago today.
Today, Shanti enjoyed a cappuccino and piece of chocolate-vanilla cake at a local coffee shop in celebration of her honor roll victory.
One year ago today, Arturo and I wandered around Kiev, enjoying the sites and sounds and tastes and smells of the city. We enjoyed our next-to-last day as a family of two, and we had no idea how much we would come to love the brown-eyed girl we had only ever seen in photos.
Today, Shanti asked me to roll her hair in foam rollers before bed so that she can have curls tomorrow, exactly as I asked my mom to roll my hair when I was a child, and exactly as my mom asked my grandmother to roll her hair when she was a child.
One year ago today, Shanti had no idea we existed. She had no idea how her world would be turned upside down. She had no idea the new country she would learn to call home, the new language she would gradually master, the new people she would call her parents. She had no idea.
Today, our completed adoption paperwork was submitted to an Eastern European government to allow us to adopt a little boy, a child who has no idea we exist, a child who has no idea that we already love him and that we cannot wait to call him our son. He does not know that in 5-7 short weeks we will arrive in his country to meet him and to adopt him. He has no idea that he has a big sister excited beyond belief to have him as a little brother. He has no idea.
For two years in a row, October 30 has marked a day of incredible, momentous change in the life of our family. This day will forever be a day of celebration in the Araya household. It is the day we accepted the referral to adopt our precious Shanti. It is the day we submitted our paperwork to adopt our beloved Shiloh. Today is a day of celebration. Today is a day of love.