To Emmy on your first Forever Family (Gotcha) Day anniversary:
How blessed I feel, sweet girl, to be your mommy.
You are such a joy-bringer. From the moment we met you it was clear that you scatter joy in your wake wherever you go. When we met you, you had your nannies (and their driver) in stitches with your funny stories, facial expressions and jokes. We didn't even speak the same language and by the end of our first day together, you were telling us jokes and cracking us up too.
You have never met a stranger. Initially, this worried me a bit about your ability to attach to us. But I did not need to be worried. It's not that you can't or don't attach more strongly to your family, it's that you simply love everyone. So many times this year, I've been in a hurry or maybe a teensy bit grumpy or something and you have noticed someone in the line at the grocery store, the waitress at the restaurant or the person next to us at the gas station or washing their hands in the sink next to ours in the rest room and said, "What's your name?" And the person, who usually looks pretty in a hurry and crabby themselves before your question gets a smile on their face and tells you their name and you reply, "My name is Emmy. Nice to meet you." And you smile at them and everyone around smiles with you because you bring joy, sweet girl.
You are honest. You are sometimes a little bit naughty in a Junie B. Jones kind of way. But whenever you're naughty, you are the first to tattle on yourself. I never need to wonder what you've been up to because you'll tell me, through honest tears, exactly what you've done and how sad you are. Your honesty extends beyond yourself, too. One day a little girl at preschool told you that she didn't like you and you weren't her friend. And you responded, "That's not very nice. And you're my friend." You know how I know? Because you told me. Right after you told her in the library after school that she was your friend again just in case she forgot. Because she is your friend. Everyone is.
You've never met an audience you didn't like. Right after you came home from China, the kids were leading in worship in church. The little kids were waving ribbons to the worship music. You just grabbed a ribbon and jumped up in front and joined them. Every children's sermon is an opportunity to share your thoughts into a microphone, to make the congregation laugh and generally to endear yourself to more and more people. You dance to the worship music in the front pew. You tell my 6th grade class all about your day if they're there (all 31 of them) when you come in after preschool. Your current favorite phrase is, "Mom, you wanna hear my song?"followed by an awesome conglomeration of many carefully selected tunes. You are a performer.
You are uncanningly good at directions. We thought you might be when we were in China but we know you are now. Today, for example, we were going to get my haircut and you said, "This is by chorale." And you were right. You always know which direction the car is going and where we are headed before I even tell you. Seriously. I think you have a map in your head. You also really like to know the schedule. You ask me what the plan is for the day every morning. And it really bugs you when we deviate from it, which we do almost every day. I think you might have a daytimer in your head too.
Your laugh is as contagious as your smile. As I mentioned before, you are a great joke-teller. You know what will be funny and you say it. And sometimes you crack yourself up and your laughter is just as funny as the joke. You like people. You think they are funny and you know you are funny. You bring laughter.
You are resilient and a learner. This year you did lots of incredibly hard things, things that most adults I know would not be able to do. You assimilated to a new culture and grieved your own, learned to love and trust a new family, and learned to love dogs. You learned how to be a sibling, how to trust other kids not to take your food or toys and how to share. You learned that there is enough food for now and for later, that it's okay to grow out of things and give them away, and that taking turns can be fun. You learned to eat new foods, celebrate new holidays and to not put lotion in your hair. You learned a new language, how to clean and wear your glasses and wore an eye patch for two hours every day. You learned to answer questions, to ask a million why questions everyday and to accept no for an answer...sometimes. You learned to write your name, to ride a tricycle, to do a forward roll, to count to 15, to say your alphabet and even to identify some letters. You learned to sit still for a while to listen, to "read" yourself a book, to play by yourself with toys for a bit and to play pretend with others. This year was full of learning new things. And I'd imagine every year will be full of learning new things because you're curious. And you're a learner.
You are a thrill seeker. When we went to Disney World this summer, you didn't just tolerate the big rides, they were your favorites. You laughed through the many plunges on the Tower of Terror. You asked to go again and again on the Thunder Mountain Railroad. The faster, the bumpier, the scarier, the better! I imagine that this life that we now get to share with you will be a great adventure because you are a great adventurer. And I'm excited for the ride. I'm so grateful that God brought us together. So I'm putting on my hiking boots and my sunscreen and packing a bag full of lots of crazy things (Do they actually make shark repellent?) because I have a feeling that we are going some wild and amazing places. And I wouldn't miss it for the world.
Love you, Emmy Bear (LuXin, Jingle Bear McGoo, Emmy Jun), oodles and bunches.