Cupcake was different on the pick up trip than she had ever been before on our visits.
On the visits, she was very proper. Not quiet or shy, but she carefully folded her napkin in her lap and dabbed at the corners of her mouth as she ate. She would use a fork to daintily pick up her food and chew. She carefully carried large stemware glasses filled with orange juice to her mouth without spilling a drop. The hand-off was always a teary affair, but it was normal scared kid crying. She would always fall asleep in our arms and wake up a happy camper. She talked a mile a minute - and very animated. She was moody - sunshine would turn to clouds in a heartbeat - and then back again. But overall, she was very happy and content and pleasant. In a word, she was "charming".
But the pick up trip was different...
We arrived at the hotel a couple of hours before she was due to arrive. We paced nervously and finally went out to the front garden to watch for our facilitator's car. After quite a while, suddenly there was movement behind us...and there she was...all smiles. She ran up to me and kissed me...and then promptly ran back to her Mama L's legs. The smile quickly turned to tears and she wanted nothing to do with us.
After a short time, Mama L said it was time to go, and she tried to hand Cupcake over to us with determination. At that moment, I (we) became the object of terror to my (our) own child. I have never seen that look in a person's eyes. It absolutely broke my heart. At that moment, I knew they had told her that this time was forever...and we knew she understood.
She was practically climbing up Mama L to get away from us. So we came over and pried her away from Mama L. She sobbed.
As Mama L drove off, Cupcake began to wail...the most gut-wrenching, horrible wail. Then she began to hit at me with all her might. Screaming, she grabbed my hair and pulled out chunks along with my hair clips and threw them on the ground. We took her inside, and she calmed down after a short time (and some ice cream).
Once we had settled in, Cupcake was what I would call "hyper" for the rest of the trip.
She was a bit subdued that first day, but every car that honked was a reason to run to the window. We were in Guatemala City. She ran to the window a LOT. She walked and walked and walked the grounds of the hotel. She would try to "escape" out the front gate every chance she got. She said, "Hola" to every person that walked past. If they didn't answer her, she would yell "HOLA!" If that didn't work, she would yell louder until they acknowledged her presence and said "Hola" back. Looking back, I think she was trying to draw attention to herself - begging someone to notice that she was captured by people who were not her parents - hoping someone would notice her dire situation.
She talked to everyone who spoke Spanish, especially Freddie and Gloria, the owners of the hotel. They were such a huge help to us, translating and explaining and encouraging us all in the adjustment. On the first night, when they shut the front gate for the night, Cupcake told them, "My Mama didn't come back.". Her poor little crest-fallen face broke my heart again.
The next day, she told Gloria that I was not her Mama. I was her aunt. And if Daddy was her Papi, then she was going to cry. And, furthermore, she had NO INTENTION of being an obedient little daughter to us. She was, however, very excited about the plane ride. She still looked for cars that honked, but only if she was at the window already.
For the most part, she was pleasant and charming and proper, but with an edge. Any little thing might set her off or make her upset.
Her bad moods were more intense than they had ever been on the visit trips. She would cry a very high-pitched whine and would not let either of us comfort her. She threw a lot of things to the ground and would try to leave the room and run away whenever she was mad. This time, she was much more defiant than we had ever seen before.
And she had nightmares...
She was replaying the "hand-off" over and over in her mind.
I was the object of her nightmares.
As I lay there sleepless, the depth of her sorrow overwhelmed me. There are no words to describe the emotions that flooded my soul. I grieved for all my daughter's pain and loss. The gravity of her needs washed over me. Her hurt was bigger than me. I could not and can not fix it. We were in over our heads, and only a mighty God could heal her brokenness.
As we boarded the plane for home, we had no idea of what lay ahead...
Blessings to you,
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