Our time in Alberta is coming to an end and we are leaving tomorrow morning. We were originally going to leave today, but after talking with Sharla, we decided to stay one more day so that the kids and I could go to church with them today and enjoy one last day of visiting. I'm glad we did!!
Yesterday, Saturday, the kids and I met up with a couple whom Geoff and I met last year in Ethiopia, on our court trip. Anita and her husband were in court on the same (crappy) day as us, and this weekend, we got to meet the daughter that they brought home around the same time as us (and we met their other daughters as well). In addition to really enjoying our visit with them, it was a neat experience because Seth and Lizzie got to spend time with M, who was in our agency's transition home at the same time as our kids. I believe the three kids lived there together for about six or eight weeks after we passed court (and before we went to collect the kids and bring them home to Canada).
Seth had no memory of M from their time in the transition house, which caused him quite a lot of anxiety before we arrived at their home. During our time with them, it almost seemed to me that he ignored M - I'm not sure what that meant, if anything. Lizzie said before our visit that she might remember who M was but she didn't think so; however, afterwards she said that yes, she definitely did remember M. It seemed obvious that there was some kind of recognition because it didn't take much time before Lizzie and M were holding hands and doing everything together; it was a very quick connection, and it was very sweet.
Anita told me that M definitely remembered our kids and that she remembered a time when Lizzie scratched her! I asked Lizzie about that later in the day, when I was getting her ready for bed. She immediately said that 'yes,' she had scratched M (on her back) but that she was only trying to have fun. Hmm...not sure that this sounds like my Lizzie...scratching to have fun?? She said she actually had scratched M a few times, but that she really liked her anyway! OK then.
At one point while still getting Lizzie ready for bed, I plunked her on top of the bathroom counter to brush her teeth. To my surprise, she wanted to stay sitting there for several more minutes and she started to talk about Ethiopia. This isn't common for Lizzie. In fact, she has seemed to have very few memories of Ethiopia. But about three weeks ago, when she and I had some time alone together, she came out with a whole bunch of stuff related to living with her first father; and then on Saturday, she abruptly began to talk about the day she and Seth were taken to the orphanage. She would have been barely three.
I won't share those details, to guard her privacy about those precious and painful memories, but it is very interesting to me that this came out on the day of her spending time with her little friend from Ethiopia. I feel certain that there is a connection. And as I look back to the time a few weeks back when she wanted to talk about other memories, I also recall that our conversation took place shortly after a skype conversation between our kids and two other kids who were all friends in their birth community, who were in the orphanage and transition house together, and who were adopted by another Canadian family.
Surely these things can't be a coincidence. I am blown away by the specific memories that have been evoked in Lizzie as a result of these encounters. She would have been so tiny at the time. It's not like there are lots of memories, but what there have been have been significant, and they have brought out some sadness in my usually-happy little daughter. I am not used to hearing deep, heavy sighs from her, and expressions of grief. I can't help but think that these experiences have been very good for her, to help her process some of her sadness.
For all of us, it was lovely to meet up with this family (again). I remember thinking, while in Ethiopia for our court trip last year, that I was sorry that Anita and I didn't live closer together because I thought she was someone I'd like to get to know. I'm so glad we had a chance to re-connect!
Later in the day yesterday, we got to meet more of Sharla's family when they came for dinner and that was great, too. And we really loved attending their church here this morning - it was the church's 40th anniversary and so we all stayed for a bbq lunch and fun time afterwards. The kids all enjoyed two or more multi-flavoured snow cones at the bbq, and I think the sugar in their system just enhanced the energy level that they carried over into their trampolining and playing for the rest of the day!
Sharla and I capped tonight off with a final couch visit and a last cup of tea, and I go to bed replete. Let me tell you this: We have enjoyed some marathon visiting hours late at night (she really is a night owl, that one!)!! I will need a vacation from our vacation just to catch up on some sleep!!