I like my daughter.
I’ve been working and praying for a year to be able to say that. I like her. I really, really like her.
This is new. I’ve loved her for a lot longer. I’ve loved her since God nestled the longing for her in my heart, before she was even born. I’ve loved her through paperwork. I’ve loved her through roadblocks and long waits. I’ve loved her through the agony of the unknown. I’ve loved her through her homecoming and hours of her shrieking till my hands shook and I thought my ears would bleed. I’ve loved her through doctors’ visits and medicine droppers. Through back-breaking hours of holding her as she screamed to be held but pushed and writhed away from me but screamed to be held but went limp and refused to hold me back. I’ve loved her through food thrown and toys thrown and slaps in my face and bites and defiant eyes and unyielding spirit.
I’ve stroked her cheeks with trembling hands as I worked for precious eye contact and fought to keep my voice steady as my emotions welled up and my heart sobbed drops of rejection. Understanding her pain and her not knowing not understanding how could she understand the depths of my love in her toddler mind?
Through months of bitter challenge we wrung beauty out of boundaries, forged trust out of routine, developed respect out of discipline, and earned her choosing US. It was our choice to adopt her. And now she chooses us back. Her choice to run to me to call for me to build relationship with me. Mommy.
In the despairing moments over the last year, one of my wise adoptive parent friends told me to give it a year. A year to normal. We are approaching our year mark, and yes. Slowly, blossoming beautiful flower of LIKE. I like my daughter.
I’ve always loved her. This year I learned that love is not a feeling. Love is action. Love is all in, all the time. Love is no matter what. And the fierce fight of love has brought us to like. I like her. I like her so much. I like her laugh and I like being with her. I like it when she wakes up and I like spending time with her. I like talking with her and hearing her little 2-year-old logic. I like when we forgive each other after a fight and we hug and say sorry. I like that we are learning to yield to each other. I like that she needs me to think she’s amazing and shower her with oohs and ahhs. I like making her feel like a princess. And I like that when I laugh at her crazy diva moments, that she snaps out of it and returns to earth. I like that she forgives me when I get stressed out and says, “It’s okay, Mommy.” I like having a little buddy. I like her sweet voice singing Alleluias to Jesus. I like reading to her. I like listening to her perform. I like her so much.
She is amazing. Many people have told me this all year. Somewhere inside I have known. My understanding was buried deep below a thick layer of bruised spirit. I see it clearly now. She is amazing. And the bruise is healing.
I like her. And I can say with confidence, she likes me back. Praise Jehovah Rapha, the Healer.