We opened the elevator doors and walked out taking our last steps as a family of five. As we rounded the corner in the lobby and there she was. A quiet scared girl, dress in panda pink, unsure of what was taking place. We reached for a hug but she was scared, and as her dad I was torn. I wanted to reach out and dry the tears welling up in her, but I knew things must progress because Mia’s life was forever changing and it is a lot to take in for a 2 year old. I could see the same mixed emotions in the orphanage director’s face and the caretaker she clung to. They were losing a loved one, but she was gaining a family. Over the past few weeks, I had tried to put myself in their shoes and realized our gain was their loss. But everyone in that room knew this was, as my dad always said, the right thing to do. But it was so much more than that, it was the seeds of love. Seeds were being planted in that little girl that we all will see blossom in the days to come. We asked a few questions, signed some papers and then just as quick as we walked into the room to meet her. The director and caretaker left. If tears could talk at that point they would be screaming in fear, and Mia was both crying and screaming. Once again everything Mia Kate had known was being turned upside down, but if you look at her history each upside down turn got better and better. And as a Dad I will fight to make this the best turn of her life.
As she cried, we made are way to a playgound seeking the joy that overflows from there might calm her down. The bright spot was she clung to Melissa with all her might as if saying we are in this together from here on out. One by one each of our kids tried to get her to smile, to stop the tears and tell her it was ok we loved her. It was as if to say if we saw that smile, we all knew that yes there would be tears and yes there would be joy, but that smile would bond a family…forever. But with each attempt she rejected us and became more fearful of what lay ahead.
As a dad, memories of the conversations over the past 3 years echoed in my head. Things like “let her grieve” or “she might not like you at first” things you never want to happen but you know might. I was trying to console her with hugs and silly faces, but nothing worked. I knew it could be days before we saw that sweet smile. A smile I know we will grow to love. Then it happened, as if God at that moment gave me a smile himself. I offered a simple high five to Mia Kate and she reached out and gave me five with all her might. At that moment both corners of her face lit up and a smile crept out from behind those tears. For me, it was if I was high fiving after one of the greatest plays of my life. It was so much more than just two hands touching, it was as if in that moment we connected. For the moment our family had unlocked the secret to get her smile.
One by one each member gave her five in their own special way. Champe did the high five/hug (which she was still not to keen on the hug.) Genevieve did the high five twirl. To which she mimicked her spin. Eli went all out and did the high five followed by some silly fall on the floor too, which Mia Kate erupted to laughter. Then Eli repeated this fall over and over to which he gets the privilege of saying he made her laugh first.. We had succeeded and by the joy in her laughter I knew she would fit right in to this crazy Presley clan. There it was I looked at Melissa and thought this daughter of ours is going to fit right in.
I know the coming days will bring heartache and loss as Mia Kate says goodbye to all she knows as a 2 year old. But I also know we hold the secret to getting over the bad days and it is so much more than a high fives… it is love. And this family is filled with that.
Thank you to the many of you who prayed for years for this moment, even as I write this I am overwhelmed at the love you have shown for our family. Now a family of six…