As many of you know, Stacy and I are currently "fostering" our two girls down in Managua, Nicaragua. Initially the thought of spending an extended and fairly open-ended time away from friends and family was overwhelming. We also realized that the investment of resources, both tangible and intangible, would be significant. But such concerns are tempered after waiting so long, coming so far, and then finally receiving "the call" to travel. At that point you make arrangements as fast as you can and just pray you haven't forgotten anything "critical" as you pull out of the driveway and head to the airport.
Almost a month into this "assimilation" period, we have grown to appreciate how the process is helping form initial bonds and stronger attachments with Rosalinda and Rebeca. Stacy describes it as "learning how to dance with one another." Our own parenting skills and style are also being observed and assessed by those in Nicaragua ultimately responsible for the health and well-being of these very special little girls.
While Stacy remains in Nicaragua caring for Rosalinda and Rebeca, I recently returned to Michigan to care for our older kids, maintain the home, and continue my work. It was on the eve of my return that I had a profound "dad" moment with Rosalinda.
My two pieces of carry-on luggage were packed and lined up against the wall under the large windows that each morning let our bedroom flood with sunlight filtered through the stand of mature mango, avocado, and palm trees just outside our temporary home. On top of one bag I had placed a notebook-sized portfolio containing my itinerary and other travel-related papers. Inside the portfolio, Rosalinda had secretly placed a note.
She had folded it in half, then in half again, then in half once more. On the outside it was addressed "Para: Papá De: Rosa" and sealed with "Te Quiero" which means "I love you." I unfolded and read the message Rosa wanted me to travel with. She again told me she loved me, that I was a good dad, and that she had always wanted to have a dad like me.
Adoption begins with a leap, is measured in small methodical steps, takes many turns, and ends in an embrace. I have carried my daughter's note with me everyday, folded in my wallet and forever in my heart. "Rosalinda, tú eres mi hija y te amo. Papá."