3 Months ago today we rolled off an 8 hour overnight train ride and hit the ground running full speed without having showered, changed, brushed our teeth, or slept much. We walked into Baby House #1 in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine without a clue how our lives were about to change. We had butterflies in our stomachs and couldn't believe we were about to meet our daughter for the very first time. The daughter we dreamt about for so long, the daughter God promised us was ours, the daughter we knew almost nothing about, the daughter we came to save, and the daughter who ultimately saved us. We sat nervously in the director's office listening to all the information they had about our daughter. We listened intently, yet, had difficulty focusing because we knew at any moment they'd be bringing our daughter in and we would finally be seeing her face to face.
They ran down her medical records, but the words that stuck the most, and that I remember to this day...echoing in my ears, were, "Nobody has ever come to visit Zoya or asked about her." It was translated so quickly and in a jumble of other pieces of information that it almost sounded like it was supposed to be hidden amongst the other details. It was hard to hear. To know, that our daughter had sat alone in that orphanage for almost two years without a single soul visiting or caring or asking about her. While they were rambling off the details they knew about her 21 months of life, I saw a caregiver pop in the door with Zoya and pop back out so quickly that I only got about a half of a second glimpse. They shooed her out the door as they were not done talking with us about her. When I saw her for that half second it looked like she had red hair (as I had been imagining all along) and I definitely noticed the bowl haircut and the bright blue dress. After that I don't think I heard anything else they said. I remember thinking, "she looks nothing like what I imagined" and "what the heck are we doing here, we have got to be absolutely crazy for doing this." The other thing I remember the most about all the details they gave us was looking at the director while she was speaking to us in Russian and seeing something in her face that said she cared about Zoya, that she was happy we were there to take her away from that place. She said, "Zoya has potential." I remember thinking that if someone there could see her potential then she must be amazing. About 5 more minutes in the hot gloomy office and our facilitator asked us if we'd like to meet Zoya after everything we heard. They were giving us a chance to say no, to not even meet her, to run away and never look back. We couldn't wait any longer and they walked in with her. 3 months ago today, we met our daughter, Zoya.
Looking back on that day today I remember seeing such a sweet, yet scared looking angel. The child I picture (and the child in these pictures) is not the same child I know today, not by a long shot. I look at these pictures and see nothing behind her beautiful blue eyes. I see no life, no happiness, nothing that shows me she's ever felt love or ever had much to look forward to. I felt excited, exhausted, exhilarated, and scared to death to know that God was entrusting this child to us.
It didn't take long before Zoya started hugging on me and she did not want to let go. I remember thinking that somehow she knew we were there to come and rescue her from her nightmare. We had prayed so hard for this and I remember as soon as I took her into my arms, sunlight just poured in through the windows (on a day that had been rainy and gloomy up until that point) and all of the scared feelings melted away. I knew when I held her that she needed me and I needed her. From that point on we could not live without one another.