But regardless. This morning Ronnie woke at 4:09 and happened to think to check his phone. Amazingly, she sent us a message at 4:10 saying "Hi."
I sent photos of backpacks, purses, shoes, notebooks - she told me what she needed, liked, wanted.
Ronnie asked her a lot of questions. Some more personal than we have felt the freedom to ask prior to today.
We showed her photos of Josiah and Lydia from the last few weeks - she said "our family!"
We showed her - for the first time - a couple of photos of extended family. Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. (my family is pretty loud and we know we can be a bit overwhelming for first timers... I figured we should go ahead and start with introductions before she gets in country :)) HA!
She said - again - "our family."
Not long after that, maybe it was the first time she felt freedom. Or the first time our communication had gone deep enough. Maybe it was that I have only recently realized that I had not called her "daughter" in my messages.... and started that this week. I have referred to her as daughter to others.... but in my emails and texts to her, I have called her princess, sweet girl, and Lena.
Regardless, about one and a half hours into our conversation it happened. "мама я також тебе люблю"
Momma, I also love you.
Enough. My day was perfect. I am, emotionally, really mom of three.... legally, we still have a ways to go - but we have crossed yet another small - yet great - step to bonding.
We talked for three hours. Sometimes clearly, and some things I still don't understand.
I had yet to get really emotional about this whole process. Not that I haven't felt strong emotions, obviously..... but I haven't cried. Until today. About 5 hours after she got offline, I was driving, I had bought her some shoes. I have bought so many other things for her - shirts, dresses, school supplies, hair bands, make-up. But the shoes apparently got me. Today. I cried.
I cried joy tears - because she called me momma.
I cried fear tears - because I have to admit every day that nothing is for sure. (but that is true in all of life)
I cried pain tears - my daughter is halfway around the world asking for school shoes.
I cried hope tears - we are taking steps this weekend and next week towards bringing her home.
I just pulled in the parking lot - with Josiah in the back seat asking what was wrong - and I cried.
мама я також тебе люблю.