I’ve never reposted before, but I thought that today might be a good day to do so.

Today is Liliana’s fourth birthday.  She’s been with us not quite two years.  She is such a delight, and we love her immensely.  [Happy Birthday, sweet girl!]

Almost two years ago, we were having a heck of a time in the Ukraine–seven weeks of discouraging red tape and disheartening news–and then they asked us to provide them with a name for all the legal documentation.  Here is what Liliana looked like then…her name was Karina Emirsanovna Smirnova.

And here’s my post from Wednesday, September 17, 2008…

It’s been a tough day for us.

I will tell you the bad news out first.  Then comes something happy, I promise.

We learn today that we cannot leave the country until the middle of October, due to the judge not waiving the waiting period of ten days after the court date.  Don’t ask; I probably wouldn’t know how to answer you.  I understand very little about the whys and whats of the goings-on, and I’m only too grateful for the people here in the Ukraine who are truly getting things done as quickly as possible.  We’ve realized how little the U.S. agencies and government systems know about how Ukraine works, and it all would have been a little easier, had we known in advance.  Certainly, the Summit Adoption mistake has cost us two weeks, and now, because of this, Dan will have to fly home after the court date, because he’s run out of days to use.  Every day after that, we’re losing more and more money at home, all the while we’re spending more and more here.  So, as it stands now, I will be here alone for three weeks, still visiting Liliana every day, twice a day, but doing it alone.  We’ve had a rough go of it today, just talking about it.  The adoption process hasn’t been the way we imagined it all, but we’ll be grateful if we can just go home with a child.  If it were not for the efforts of these wonderful Ukrainian people, we would have had to leave long ago.

About Liliana.  She’s beginning to feel the stress of our visits and returning to her little friends.  I’m sure she’s confused and a little panicked.  She has these spurts of laughter and then she gets very still and exhales loudly.  This morning she screamed for the first four minutes, I think, and then we were able to calm her and interest her in other things.  She is curious about everything, and even with the smallest things, like a dog barking–she gives a sharp inhale as if to say, “What’s that?”  Then her little mouth drops open, her eyes grow wide, and she points.  Very cute.  Dan walks around with her and lets her experience everything–the bark on the trees, the peeling paint of the building, the wetness of the leaves after the morning’s rain.  She is very serious the whole time, as though she is learning the most important things.  We get to see how methodical she is.  When we take out a box of 8 Crayola crayons and a blank tablet, she does her usual quick inhale, then opens the book, takes out one crayon, scribbles in her loopy way, then replaces the crayon and takes out one more crayon.  Always, she keeps one in her hand and all the others in the box.  Perhaps she is obsessive-compulsive like her mother?

Now to the fun part: how we named her.

It is important, for so many reasons, and especially for Liliana, our daughter, and Worthy, my littlest sister, to explain why we’ve chosen this particular name.  Originally when we were in the process of adopting from Russia, we searched for a name that was unusual and of Russian origin–something other than the Tatianas and the Natalias and so on.  They’re all beautiful names, and most of them end in that lilting “ah” sound.  So, long before we met this wonderful little girl on Monday, we’ve been calling her Liliana, and in this way, she became very real to us.  We’ve prayed for her every night, and we’ve wondered what kind of person she would be.  And we’d promised each other that it is up to her how she ends up, meaning in her interests and in her desires (except for boyfriends, because Dan says she’s not dating ever!).  We would simply be there as the “wind beneath her wings,” so to speak.

Now the Worthy part.  This is my littlest sister’s name, as most of you know.  We’ve been very close since she was born, and since she was 6 (!) when Dan and I started dating, she’s been another sister to torment Dan, too.  It was Dan who started calling her Wordy, and she had no complaints until she was in college, when she called home, exclaiming, “You didn’t tell me that you called me Wordy because I talk too much!”  All those years…and she assumed Dan had a special nickname for her.

I must digress.  I was twelve when, to my horror, I had to announce to my classmates that my mother was pregnant again (you have to understand, this was my seventh grade mentality, and none of my friends had 6 siblings…oh, except one who had even more).  My mother had told me she had dreamed she would die during this pregnancy, so it worried me to no end that I protect this baby.  As my mother was in labor and still sitting at the dining room table eating dinner, my father asked us what we thought about two names for a girl, should it be a girl.  A girl was expected, since the birth order in my family had already gone girl-boy-girl-boy-girl-boy.  “The first one we’ve picked out is Sarah,” he said.  “The second is Worthy.”  With no delay that I recall, we all chimed in that Sarah it should be.  Who had ever heard the name Worthy?  And wouldn’t everyone just make fun of her?

That night after my father returned home, leaving my mother and a little baby sister in the hospital, I remember having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and I could see, as I passed my parents’ room, my father’s silhouette in front of his clock radio.  I paused in the doorway.  “What did you name her?” I asked.

“Worthy,” he said.  “She’s worthy of our love.”

And with that, Worthy was Worthy, and I loved her more than anything in the world.  She was four when I left for college, and I felt like a piece of my heart was missing.

Fast forward two years.  I brought Dan home to the family sometime during my sophomore year.  At dinner, Dan and I sat next to each other–he was occupying Worthy’s usual spot.  Worthy sat on his opposite side.  Mind you, Worthy was six by that time, and she did not like that she was separated from me.  Then, I kid you not, she knuckled Dan in the thigh, hard, twice, and gave him a look that said, “Why are you here?  You can leave now.”

All throughout our dating, Dan and she had a joking relationship, the kind where she’d come spy on us in the front yard, when we were trying to make out.  We’d hear a titter behind the car and the scuffling of little feet, and then because she couldn’t contain it, she’d laugh out loud.  Dan always told her that he was going to pay her back someday when she started dating.  I’m sure Russ, Worthy’s husband, is glad that Dan didn’t.

Because we want Liliana our daughter to have strong females in her life (all her aunties, to be sure, her nieces, her grandmas, and our close friends), we know that by giving her a family name, for starters, we are telling her that she belongs and that we will love her no matter what.

To Worthy, my sister:

Sweet Worthy, how can I explain how much I love you?  How I thought you were mine and mine alone?  How Dan and I have tried our best to give you what we could–opportunities and trips and time.  No dictionary or thesaurus has enough words to express how we feel.  And we know that by giving Liliana your name, we’re building a bridge toward you; she will need another advocate when she isn’t feeling so loving toward us.  Because it will happen at some point in time–that she will hurt us–simply by having to leave us.  Will you be that someone for her?  Will you love her with all your heart, too?

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  1. […] See Monday’s post if you’re confused… […]

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