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A piece of paradise

dancingseaPeople around the world penny-pinch to visit this pacific paradise I call home. While my husband chose to remain in the Midwest to go back to school, I decided to take our two kids back to my homeland. To the sea we trekked on a 4,000 mile journey.

I spent an entire week prepping my daughter for the experience. My daughter, who spent the first three years of her life imprisoned in an orphanage, whose head is misshapen from hours of lying flat in a crib. “It’s like a really big tub,” I shared as I scrubbed her clean. The next day as we waded in a community pool, I said, “The ocean is like this–times a million!” She nodded, not able to comprehend the enormity of such a thing. But when we finally stepped foot on sand the next day, my daughter’s almond eyes turned to saucers. Tears squirted from her eyes and her nails clawed my flesh as we inched from shore to sea. I ignored her pleas to stop, snapped a flotation device around her waist and nudged her toward the tide. Her screams turned to squeals when she realized she was bobbing along with the waves, not under them. An hour ticked by. Then two…and three. Her face relaxed in the wonder of it all. She laid flat on her back to float, her arms flopped out in pure trust. It was time to go. My fingers were pruning and I was hungry. She obliged and trudged to shore. But when the sun dipped down from sky to sea over the shores of Waikiki, she grabbed my son’s hand and danced. “This,” I thought, “is what it feels like to kiss the face of God.”beachnov14

Introducing my daughter to the ocean was among the top ten experiences of my life. Staring in open-faced wonder at the sea together, as the sun baked its goodness into our skin. So tender. So sweet. My mind flashed to the memory of meeting this child–22 pounds, 3 years old, so famished she ate one noodle bowl after another as my husband and I laughed and laughed that someone so little could eat so much. When you adopt a child in such an abandoned, malnourished state…you want to give them the world. I’m so grateful I feel like I have.

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