It has been nothing short of amazing looking at Zoya's transformation since meeting her almost three months ago. She is a different child than we met. She is becoming the child she was always meant to be. Every day this girl continues to amaze us in so many ways. Her capacity for love is unbelievable. She loves giving love and loves being loved. It's all she ever wanted and I'm sad to know she had to go almost two years without it and waiting each day for an opportunity to love and be loved. Can you imagine living without one single person on the planet loving you? Can you imagine living without ever having given your love completely to at least one other person? I can't. What a sad and lonely life that would be. Thankfully, that life is no more for Zoya!
Zoya is such a special little soul. She smiles a lot. Every time Shawn or I smile at her, she smiles back....EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Even if she just got in trouble, or if she is crying....no matter what, when she receives a smile, she stops whatever she is doing and always gives one back. And I'm not talking a half hearted smile, I'm talking an all out true, heartfelt smile (squinty-eye and full toothed style)! She is teaching us to love better and love more without holding back. Just recently she started giving the most sincere hugs....those hugs you get or give when you haven't seen your best friend in years, or when your brother gets off the plane from Iraq....those tight "I will never be able to tell you how much I love you and I never want to let go" hugs. She wraps her arms around us and squeezes with all her might and then pulls back and just stares at us and smiles. She has also started giving kisses....LOTS of kisses. Sometimes when I'm holding her but looking away, she will put her chubby little cherub hand on my cheek and turn my face toward her and plant a big wet kiss right on my lips and just smile. She knows how to communicate love with no words better than any other soul I've ever known. Every time I tell her "I love you" she kisses me. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Lately she has been asking us to love her! You know how? She signs, "baby" and that is her way of asking us to pick her up and hug her tight and rock her like a baby! She loves it. She gets a huge grin when I reach down to pick her up after she signs baby. She also asks us to rub her tummy...she will lay down and look at us and start rubbing her belly, then stop and just stare at us until we rub her belly. Tonight when I was putting her to sleep, she was asking me (by showing me) to rub her belly, and then rub her face and it was the cutest thing in the world! She is seeking out our love and asking us to love her. How many times I wish I felt free enough to ask someone else to hug me or rub my back or just ask for love. She loves to be loved on.
All of this from a cast-away orphan who was left to live a short, sad, and lonely life and death. I still get the most undescribable sick feeling when I think we almost said no, we almost didn't take this journey, we almost let excuses get in the way, and, ultimately, we almost left her there to die without ever having experienced the love we have to offer one another.....we almost missed out on all these hugs and kisses and smiles. What a shame that would have been for her yes of course, but what a shame that would have been for us. We would have missed out on a life time of love. Truly she is showing us what genuine, heartfelt, unconditional, non-judgemental love looks and feels like. I am so thankful we put the worries aside and trusted in God and answered His calling. We would have never known what we were missing out on. We would have never known 5,000 miles away sat THIS child, OUR child, locked in her lonely world. We would have gone on with our lives, going through the motions, putting one foot in front of the other, while missing out on the best thing that ever happened to us. God knew we needed Zoya, while all along we thought she needed us more.....how wrong we were. We never forget, for one second, what a blessing Zoya is to our life...and I'm getting closer to the day where I forget she was never mine in the first place. Because, really, in God's plan, she was always our daughter anyway.
Here are some smiley pictures of our happy ray of sunshine: