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More than I could have ever imagined…

my heart is full–and it has been…an exhausting, beautiful, hilarious, wonderful and overwhelmingly good day. You know what it feels like after you have a baby? I’ve heard people say: “If you could bottle up that emotion and sell it, you’d be a millionaire.” Oh my. Put another bottle on the market for sale…because today–today was another one of those days–a day full of moments and memories I hope we never forget.

So–I’m going to do my best to document them. For me. For my kids. For her. And if you make it to the end of this…I hope you stand at the end just a smidgen as blessed as my heart feels right now. Overflowing. My cup runneth over.

We lounged around all morning as we thought our day would be wearing, and I’m so glad we did. We scooted to Target at noon to grab a poster to make a welcome sign and headed back to decorate it and have lunch. My sweet friend Kimberly Chalk came over to keep Isaac while he napped as T’s arrival flight was smack dab in the middle of nap time. We took off to the airport–and in true Young fashion…we were running late AND got stuck in Hot-lanta traffic. We scooted in to the airport on 2 wheels–and just in time, we met Tetyana for the first time…

So there we stood after giving big hugs–realizing that sweet girl really spoke ZERO English…and of course we speak ZERO Russian. We stood there just smiling at each other. I decided to awkwardly just reintroduce ourselves over and over:). I figure repetition would help her get our names faster–and then she’d know at least a few English words–our names–at least she’d know whose name to shout out when she needed something:). I didn’t know how to introduce me or Richard–so I just said our names once and then just kept repeating the kids names over and over. And then—we were off. She was watching us all VERY closely. I saw her look at Richard to see his holding Parker and Frank’s hands. I had Laney’s hand–and she scooted REALLY close to me as we walked–so I grabbed her hand…and she kept looking at me and smiling as we walked. We got to our van–in 102 degree Atlanta weather–and she jumped in the front seat (thankful for this because most of these kiddos have never ridden in cars and I did NOT want her to get sick on the 45 minute ride home).

I could tell she hadn’t had the luxury of showering in a long time–so Richard and I decided we’d scoot home and then they could run get a few things at the market. I crazily attempted to log into google translator on my phone and proceeded to ask her “yes” or “no” questions: Are you hot? Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you tired? Are you happy? The happy question made her laugh and smile REALLY BIG. Oh sweet girl. She was thirsty–and I knew even getting something to drink in a new country is questionable–so I told Richard where a Russian market was and we decided to swing by real quick.

Just T and I went into the market-and thankfully the lady who speaks fluent Russian was there. I told her to tell Tetyana to get whatever drinks she might like to keep at our house and whatever snacks she wanted. Sweet girl couldn’t do it. Too much for her. She grabbed a TINY little snack bag of crackers and clutched it in her arms. Deep breath. I had the lady explain that *I WANTED* to do this for her–and I would be so happy if she wanted to get some snacks. She grabbed JUST ONE MORE TINY bag. I took her by the hand and started picking up things asking “yes? no?” And the fun began. We left with pear juice, 8 bags of the tiny snacks she started with, 2 big bags of pasta and a big bag of crackers. That’s all she can handle today. And that’s…exactly what she ate for dinner:)

She is so much TINIER than I imagined. I knew she would be arriving with only the clothes on her back–and those would need to be washed when we got home. So–when we got home–we went to her new closet that had several things I had bought ahead for her–ALL WAY TOO BIG for her tiny frame. We ran to my closet to see if I had anything that wouldn’t fall off her. ONE shirt. One that would be glued on me was PERFECT. I gave her some shorts that barely stayed on her tiny figure–and we headed to her bathroom. SO FUNNY. I sat on the edge of her tub and taught her what hot and cold was on the knob, how the shower worked, how to use shampoo and conditioner (she didn’t know what #2 was–#1 is shampoo and #2 is conditioner…I labeled them 1 and 2 so she’d know which to do first and second). I taught her how to lock her door–where the towels were…and I left her to shower and put on the clothes we had found to work.

I think she loved the shower as it was about 20 minutes long–and then I heard her shouting so I RACED up the stairs to find her jumping up and down in her new outfit with delight…IT WORKED and she was happy! I got her towels and outfit and took everything to the wash and she stayed 5 inches close by just as she has been since we met…I’m the safe net for now. I showed her the washing machine and dryer and how they were safe to put the clothes in and we’d get them back in the end…and we washed everything she brought. I was so proud of her as we learned in our training that this can be a hard first step–so we are building trust already! SO THANKFUL.

THEN we did what we now do best–charades! I tried my best to ask her if she wanted to sleep, eat or drive (car motion) to exchange the BIG clothes for TINY clothes. I think she understood me as I jumped around her room with the clothes doing charades:) She wanted to find clothes to fit her–so off we went. AND THIS WAS AWESOME! Seriously–it could have gone many ways but it was a really, really–my side hurts from laughing so hard today–fun adventure! And Laney and Frank tagged along for the fun.

She kept looking at how I wear my sunglasses on my head–and she was smiling. I could tell she wanted to do what I was doing–so we went to the sunglasses first. She tried on every last pair on those spinning shelves giggling with delight as she played in the mirror. I wanted to direct her as I do my littles to the cheapest–and at first I did…but as I heard her giggling more and more…I let that go–and I decided it was okay to leave the $9.99 spinner and play at the $12.99 and $16.99 spinner. Rico Suave and I are cheap people–so this was good for me. I stood there watching her…and decided I didn’t care. This girl could have whatever pair she wanted. I love the ones she got by the way:)

Then we headed to the shoes. The ones she came in will not work–so she was flip flopping around the store all day in my flip flops–so we definitely had to get a pair of shoes to get us by. She likes SPARKLEY!!! She got the EXACT pair I had but in gold instead of silver. Gold sparkly flip flops. Still giggling and I even caught her jump with delight over these $9 flip flops. Laney stood there laughing too–and even Frank was delighted!

Being 102 degrees–I knew we’d probably take her swimming this weekend. Should I even GO THERE?? I mean–shopping for a swimsuit for teenager is ONE thing…but shopping with a teenager who doesn’t speak a word of English?? Please Lord–don’t ask me to do THIS right now. THIS can wait until next week right??? SO–we skipped the swimsuits…for NOW.

We went and got a few personal things–which was hilarious with charades. My apologies to anyone at Target who saw me acting out in the ladies undergarment section. I think T and I really bonded there as Laney and Frank stood uncertain of why I was laughing SO HARD. Oh my…just trust me–this was hilarious.

I thought we’d just pick up 1 or 2 shirts and a pair of shorts. I didn’t want to overwhelm her. Just something to get us through the weekend. BUT sweet girl got really excited and the girl LOVES hot pink. So–she squealed seeing hot pink things–and being the mom I am…I grabbed every last one and we marched to the dressing room. I had to explain we could only take 6 things back at a time which was frustrating for her as she thought I wasn’t going to let her try on the other things–but we eventually got there. Our little fashion show began with Frank and Laney eating a bag of potato chips…and we had several others watching us–and as a few moms inquired about what our deal was with charades and the language barrier…I think a few hearts were touched.

I wish I could package her little squeals today when she put on a shirt she liked or a dress that she thought was perfect. And then–I knew we really should get a swimsuit…WHILE we were at it. Oh my. This was hilarious. EVERY single one I pulled out–she did NOT like saying they were TOO big (because they were so covering). BUT after quite a few–we managed and agreed on the perfect one. Frank and Laney each earned Bubblicious for their patience–and off we went! And oh my…her gratitude just precious. She was so thankful and couldn’t believe she got several shirts, shorts, a swimsuit, a coverup, sunglasses and flip flops. She just couldn’t believe it. Sweet girl. Laney didn’t quite realize why she was so thankful…but watching Laney’s face and eyes…I think she understood just a little.

We walked to the van–all 4 of us…hand in hand. She adores the children…giving them hugs and kisses all the way. We got home and Rich had cooked her pasta for her and chicken for the rest of us. She wants just pasta right now–and when I’m in a different country I do the same thing! We played outside–and enjoyed the night together with the babies entertaining us. And finally it was bed time. She wanted to play with some of the things my friends had given her–bead making for tonight…and I stood in the doorframe watching her and Laney sit side by side on her bed making beads together…

Laney was DYING to sleep in her room tonight–but I explained she needs some room to really rest after such a long journey…and there’d be plenty of time for slumbering. She shooed me away for the first time and did charades to tell me she knew I needed to go bath and rock the babies. Selfless sweetheart…so off I went–the girls continued beading while I rocked Isaac and then tucked Frank in bed. I sang all their goodnight songs–and I went to her room to tell her goodnight…

And she hugged me. The tightest hug this mom has ever received from a little one. I thought she was crying at first–and I looked back to see her laughing. JOY. Sweet joy. And I wondered how many times in her 15 years has she wondered what this might be like…to be in a home…to be tucked in…to have a momma hug you goodnight. And I took a deep breath–told myself not to cry…and hugged her back for as long as she wanted.

Today has been a full day…full of emotions–and I sit here now typing…wiped out–but only typing because these are things I never want to forget. To think I was ever fearful of bringing home an older child–and a teenager…well, that just sounded scary. The only thing scary about this–is the thought of her not being here after 5 weeks and what a future across the world might look like for a dainty, sweet, dear and precious little thing just like her. My heart strings are being pulled in a way I never imagined…and just as I predicted–my life will never be the same.

Time to rest…tomorrow is another day.

Kim - June 28, 2012 - 11:38 pm

Should include an UGLY CRY WARNING for all readers! So touching and inspiring! Love & Blessings, Kim

Amanda @ Dixie Delights - June 28, 2012 - 11:43 pm

Wow! All I can say is wow…a true blessing for ALL of you!! I can’t wait to hear more!(as I type through my tears)

Leigh - June 28, 2012 - 11:46 pm

Tears and laughter!!!! oh this is beautiful. I swear she looks younger and more childlike already, I’m sure she has had the weight of the world on her shoulders and already it looks like she is letting go of that a bit! Beautiful!!!!!!!

Renea - June 29, 2012 - 12:00 am

You never cease to amaze me. ♥ My heart is bursting with joy for you and your family. ALL of your family. 🙂 One day you will no doubt hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Love you girlfriend!

Rachelle - June 29, 2012 - 2:47 am

Andrea, This is just so touching. What a blessing. Some how I missed the start to this journey and am now wondering what is going on with this story and how it came to be. If you don’t mind telling that I’d love to know.

Megan - June 29, 2012 - 7:37 am

This post had me laughing- I love reading about your first day of adventures! Ever since you wrote that you’d be hosting T for the summer, I’ve been waiting to read about it- because it’s something we’d like to consider in the future. Thanks for documenting and being real. Blessings on Day 2!

Taryn Harvey - June 29, 2012 - 7:46 am

oh my, wasn’t expecting to cry….SO sweet…what a blessing for your family and for her…truly inspiring…I never even considered hosting BUT now…can’t wait to hear more 🙂

Jenny marrs - June 29, 2012 - 8:14 am

So beautiful!! My heart is full of joy reading this and the tears are streaming!!!! I have been praying for sweet T and your family and am so happy to hear all about your wonderful day together!!! Truly perfect! Love everything about this!

Tara - June 29, 2012 - 8:54 am

I am crying (closer to sobbing) right now as I finish reading this. I can just visualize the senario. I am excited to see what the next 5 weeks holds for you family and this precious young girl. I will be praying for you all!

Melissa - June 29, 2012 - 9:08 am

You are so wise even in your exhaustion to record all that is in your heart!

Cristie - June 29, 2012 - 9:11 am

Oh my, Andrea! Tears just flooded my eyes and overflowed! I can’t wait to meet your girl!!!!!

Sara - June 29, 2012 - 9:38 am

Ok, I’m tearing up, too! Thank you for sharing! She is so beautiful and I love how she looks in the last picture compared to the airport pics. She looked older in those first ones. Thank you for letting us follow along!

Sara - June 29, 2012 - 10:45 am

Wow. Loved every minute of reading. Thank you for sharing all the fun and amazing details. I can’t wait to watch the next 5 weeks unfold. How incredibly exciting!

Amy - June 29, 2012 - 10:55 am

Oh wow!!! It’s no coincidence that God has healed you at just this time. Can’t wait to watch the story unfold.

Staci - June 29, 2012 - 12:13 pm

Thanks for sharing the start of your journey… loved reading the details and, as always, appreciate you sharing your heart. Praying for all of you! Hope you have a smooth transition and that she can handle this heat!!!

Katie F - June 29, 2012 - 9:45 pm

I am so glad that you took the time to share this-not just so that you’ll remember, but so that we can be amazed at what God’s doing right along side you. He is just so personal in His care for each and every one of His children, isn’t He? It is beautiful!

Naomi - June 29, 2012 - 11:15 pm

Just in awe of what the Lord has done! Oh and really, I am going to need in a big box of tissues if you keep writing like this!! 🙂

Shirley Robertson - June 30, 2012 - 10:23 am

Andrea, as I read this, my heart is so touched! This is a beautiful girl who desperately needs to be loved and to have a family, as are all orphans! My prayer is that there will be a miracle for her! Love you more than you know!