Adriana is only eight and can’t know how much she means to me. Oh, I’m always ready for her tricks when she feels the prankster. I enjoy sitting and listening to her read. We play games and when she’s in the mood, she lets me tickle her. She knows I’m aching for the officials in Ahuachapán to do whatever they’re supposed to be doing to finalize her adoption so she’ll legally be my daughter. But I don’t think she understands what it is to have a father’s love as well as a mother’s.
But once in a while she does something that just warms my heart a little more. It will make me see that she does love me. She just doesn’t know exactly how to show it. She knows I love having her in my lap to watch TV even if it means I have to suffer through hours of Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel…in Spanish yet. I’ll usually get the kind of hug you get from strangers at a church function. She’ll kind of fall across my lap with her head facing away from me and give me stiff, outstretched arms while I’m just trying to squeeze her into my heart physically and kissing the back of her head. Cold!
Or she’ll come to my desk and ask me in her sweetest voice for the TV controls. When I present them, I’ll get at least one arm around my shoulder while the other grips the first control. Cool!
The other night she came in for some reason and gave me one of those hugs for just a second before putting her cheek against mine and squeezing me with both arms. I thanked God and wiped away the teardrop.
Last night she showed some patience and love (or maybe it was just boredom) by watching the MLB All-Star Game and Law & Order SVU with me…for a while. If I’m not watching her shows, she usually turns up her nose and leaves the living room. Progress.
She does things for me that show current thought and those things really feel good. When I bring Duke in from his walk, she’ll stop me and unhook his leash. If I sit too long after a meal in front of my computer, she’ll remind me before the dentist’s 20 minute warning kicks in. If she sees me checking the roost for eggs, she’ll come to the fence to relieve me of them so I’ll have both hands free to open and close the gate. Little things.
But this afternoon she did something very touching. We were getting ready to go shopping and I was changing from my Birkenstocks to my old running shoes. She watched me put on socks and pull my shoes onto my feet. Then she sat on the floor in front of me, tightened the laces, and tied the shoes.
I see so much of her mother’s servant’s heart in our little girl. But there’s more. After we came home she was lying on the sofa talking to her mother. I heard her say something that I didn’t expect from an eight-year old. Something really bright. Not brilliant, but bright. I felt a warm sense of pride and let her know how smart she is. I could see she felt good about my compliment.
I can’t imagine what it’s like spending your first six years in a single-mom family with three older siblings then suddenly there’s a male adult and he’s part of the family. To many kids in El Salvador, “He’s my mother’s husband”. Adriana seems to have had the harder time between ten-year old Luís and herself in having and understanding the father role. But she’s growing and changing. I am so very happy. Each new thing she initiates between us tightens the bond I have yearned for. May God continue to bless our mixed- culture family and strengthen our relationships!