How many of us have a dream come true? How many have had more than one dream come true? How many of you believe that prayers are answered if you have faith, patience, and perseverance? I do, so I guess this blog counts as part of my testimony.
The 2012 calendar and my biological clock say I’m in the winter of my life. The prophet Joel tells us in 2:28 “your old men will dream dreams”. He had that right. I’m 76 since Tuesday and I’m not only dreaming dreams but they’re coming to pass.
I never seriously dreamed of a dark-skinned, graceful lady with long brown hair as a possibility for a wife. Suddenly, there was Margarita overshadowing any and all other women I might have thought about. But when we talked seriously, I began to dream of us as a team evangelizing and encouraging neighbors who were either partially or non-committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. An Aaron, if you will, who could speak for Moses.
The other night, we went out for the first time together to visit an extended family in need of some food staples. We purchased a bag full and went to the house. The two mothers and passel of kids were sitting out front and invited us to sit. I did a little lesson on Psalm 23 and talked about church. Margarita led us in prayer. It was my first time to take the lead in such an endeavor. I felt blessed. The family felt blessed. It was another dream coming true. I need a lot more experience and polish but I feel like we’re on our way.
Almost four years ago, I walked into the pre-school/kindergarten class at our church’s school. Little kids are always beautiful in their innocence. Among them was a tiny girl with a captivating smile that made her stand out from all the little angels seated in front of me. I thought of my own four girls, now in or approaching middle age, and how good it was to have them run to me, compete for a spot on my lap, give me hugs and kisses, and call me daddy. How wonderful it would be to just once more have that feeling with a little girl like this one. On the surface, a pipe dream at best.
That little girl was Adriana. Her mother, Margarita. Her father, never stuck around long enough to see his daughter and nurture her love for him. After a few years of being Adri’s English teacher and getting to know her mom, we got married. But according to custom and law, the kids are Margarita’s. Three of them have their father’s name and their mother’s name after their first and middle names. Not Adriana. Margarita used her own paternal and maternal family names for her.
Margarita and I talked about my adopting the two younger children. Luís, almost 10, declined the offer. Although he has no contact with his natural father he has grown up around his relatives and has an identity. Adriana has no uncles, aunts, cousins, or grandparents on her father’s side. It filled me with joy when after a private conversation among them, Margarita told me that Adriana, 7, wanted to do it and have my name. How excited I was just thinking about it! How far we’ve come in our relationship that she’s ready to accept me as her papi, even if she calls me hermano Royer, as is the custom. I didn’t know until this week how excited SHE was.
On Tuesday, I had to take Duke the Dog to Chalchuapa for his shot. He’d been living in the wilderness of Casa Blanca guarding the old house and the coffee plants growing next to it. I walked him home and the kids gave him a good bath. When he was dry, I prepared to take him on the microbus to Chalchuapa. I asked Adriana if she’d come with me. She has never really gone further than the park with me without her mother. So it surprised me when she was eager to go. Even with the two-hour wait once we arrived (I’d forgotten the customary siesta), she was enjoying what we did and talked about while sitting on a cement bench in front of the vet’s or enjoying milk shakes at the corner ice cream store.
We had to walk a half-mile after Duke was inoculated to a veterinary clinic to find out about getting his nails clipped. She never complained but asked the right questions of the lady there. When we got home, we found out that big brother Juan had gone to Chalchuapa and bought a cake and some Pepsi for my birthday. There were no tangible gifts for me, just the warm feeling of sharing the adventure with my daughter.
But that was only the first part. Yesterday, Margarita, Adriana and I went to the equivalent of the County Records Building in Ahuachapán to find out what paper work we’d need for me to adopt. The clerk helped us out very nicely. We celebrated by having lunch at Pollo Campero. Not something we can afford to do very often. Looking at the list once we got home, I realized I had almost everything. I just needed to make the required copies of each and put them with the originals. I only lacked two things: a photo of Adriana and me and a note from a doctor stating that she is in good health. I took the photo last evening and the clinic will give us the report on Monday. I’ll make a copy of it as required and we’ll go back to Ahuachapán to submit the paper work.
I am well on the way to realizing an improbable dream. I’ll not only have a daughter to love and to love me, but it will be the little girl I held as my “ideal” child. Both Margarita and Adrianita have been so easy to love. The language and cultural differences occasionally are stumbling blocks for this gringo, but love has a way of keeping me from falling. That love continues to grow as we come to know each other better. They both know how happy they have made me here in a strange country with strange ways. We are ever more comfortable with one another. We know our roles in this traditional society. And a little girl now will have an official daddy. As soon as we get the document of adoption, we’ll make a copy for the school and she’ll be Adriana del Carmen Brown Olmedo.