Today, seven years and one month later, I heard it again.
This time while watching her eyes light up as she talked with her brother again for the first time in over five years. Seeing her again made Juan realize just how much of her life he's missed out on, how much she's grown up and passed all the little girl stages. She doesn't play with dolls and toys anymore. She watches all the same movies and plays the same games as he does. They both quickly showed each other all the mementos they've kept of one another over the years, never forgetting.
They both have pictures of each other up in their rooms.
They both have memorabilia from Colombia in their rooms.
They both have a soccer ball plaque with their name on it that Julian made for them hanging in their rooms.
They both acquired a new Spanish accent and vocabulary--hers' from Spain, his still Colombian with a little Mexican slang thrown in.
My heart flooded with joy seeing both of them so happy to see and talk to one another again. That biological connection is so, so important and fills an incredible void in their lives. They both seemed so sad to have to end the call so he could leave to go to work. He told her he loved her, and she said, "Me, too."
Her family enthusiastically embraced Juan as soon as they saw him on the video call, so happy for her to have this recent reconnection with both of her brothers. I felt such peace seeing her with the family God always chose for her, while seeing how excited they all were to meet her brother today. A truly priceless experience, a moment I will cherish forever. A moment that is likely to be the first of many, though scheduling may be a bit hard with a seven hour time difference. Hopefully they'll find a random moment to talk again when Julian can join in from Argentina on a 3 way call. I can hardly wait for that day to come.
Amidst all the joy and gratitude, though, I will admit I am still trying to process all the rest of the emotions that went through me as I listened to that sweet voice fill the room over the course of the following hour, within the very room that had once been perfectly prepared and ready for her to occupy. That voice I thought I'd never hear again. That voice I grieved hard over losing so many years ago. That voice I cherished for so long, hoping for the day it would fill my own home. Yet now those sweet giggles occupy another home, another room, and fill another family with absolute joy. They love her, and I got to see that today.
Grief from a failed adoption is a grief that never ends. You grieve just as if there's a death, though no one ever dies. You know the child is still out there, so true closure is hard to find. No matter how I've seen God's plan turn out so beautifully. No matter how much time has passed. No matter how much I've healed and moved on, accepting my intended role in her life was never to be her mom. There will always be triggers that bring it all back. Like seeing friends watch chic-flicks with their daughters on a lazy day or taking them out for manicures and pedicures. Like reading a friend's blog today, saying they finally got the call about being approved to adopt their little girl from Colombia--the call I hoped for but never got. Or like hearing that sweet, sweet voice from the past come back to life again.
When Juan introduced me as his mom, she looked in my eyes and said she remembered me. But to what extent, I don't know. We showed her pictures of her and David together, but she doesn't remember him at all. I don't know if she remembers our phone calls or even when we met in person. I have to really process how to play this new role in her life, her biological brother's mom who can't help but melt when I see her, remembering how dearly I loved her and fought for her. She is my son's sister, so she will always and forever be a part of my heart and life. But she is also the daughter I carried in my heart that never came home.
I'm delighted and over-the-moon excited. I'm blessed, humbled, and more than grateful. Yet there is a lingering sadness I can't deny. I loved her so much. I still do. I always will.
This is a whole new territory in this walk through a failed adoption. I am sharing openly both to document this part of the journey and to relate to others on this same road (and because this introvert will never find adequate words to express it verbally). If you or someone you know has experienced a failed adoption, please encourage them to join our Facebook group (Failed Adoption Grief Support Group) where we just support, encourage, validate, pray for, ask questions, and give advice to others in our shoes, all at different stages.
(If you are a new reader to this blog, here is our story that will fill in the gaps and explain why a simple skype call could bring about such a variety of emotions. I titled it That box up on the shelf. )