With the arrival of our Colombian princess’s second GOTCHA DAY next Sunday, memories of that time in our lives have been frequent, heart warming and still alarming in some cases.
November 25, 2010 the day we received Nora, is alive and well in my memory banks. The morning began with my first Spanglish lesson of ordering breakfast from the kitchen in the hotel where we had arrived just seven short hours previously. Translated from my lame Spanish back to lame English for your enjoyment….my order: “Eggs. Milk. Five people. Juice. Cooked bread.(toast) Coffee.” The kind person on the phone kept asking me questions and I had NO idea what they were saying. I repeated my eight word order several times. Surprisingly, we did get everything we asked for, plus hot cocoa, arepas, jam, honey and some fruit!
On our drive home from ICBF (Colombian social services), we were all jolted beyond belief in the traffic, on the steep hills and due to the driving style of our guide. Thankfully we only had a 20 minute ride or we would have all been losing our breakfast.
Being the prepared official mother of four children, when Nora started looking woozy, I grabbed a gallon zip lock bag from my purse and she used it well. Just a teeny bit of mama pride surfaced as I had anticipated the problem and solved it in the nick of time. We also learned at that moment that she had been fed chocolate cake for breakfast. LOTS of chocolate cake.
My mama pride dissolved into nothingness that same evening when we tucked Nora in for the night. We all kissed her, Larisa brushed out her nine tiny braids before she was wrapped in her cozy new jammies and ready for beddy-bye. My sweet husband has done the tucking-in for all of the kids’ lives. He is such a thoughtful dad and spends time talking with them and listening to how their day went. The kids love their Daddy time as much as I love my freedom time. Rick went to put her in her bed in the second bedroom of our “apartment”. I could hear him singing and talking to his new little daughter whom he couldn’t understand… nor could he speak a lick of Spanish.
About six or seven minutes into this familiar TO US ritual, I realized for the first time Nora was alone with this strange man whom she was to call Daddy. The information we had about her past was sketchy, but it dawned on me that she could be terrified of my sweet, kind-hearted husband…. just because he is male.
As quickly as my little fingers could type into Google translate, I wrote the sentences “Your Papi loves you. He will never hurt you. He will always protect you and take care of you. He is a very nice man. He has never hurt anyone. You don’t have to ever be scared of him. He loves you.” I unplugged the computer and rushed into the room where, as I suspected, she was clinging to the far edge of her bed with wide fearful eyes. My heart broke… once more. How stupid of us! I read the sentences of love and assurance to her in Spanish and I visibly saw her relax and sink into the pillow with relief.
I went from Wonder Mama with the barf bag to Blunder Mama with the scary husband…. all in 11 hours! I had a lot to learn…. and the learning curve was quite steep two years back. Thank God for Google translate!