Just when I though we had a day too normal to blog about, 6-year-old Neti gave me something that I'll never forget. She's been a little bit cautious to make the connection with me as "Daddy". Not extremely slow - just slower than Meke. Maybe she feels the need to hang onto the Mom role she's played for little sis until we pass the "parent test".
Tonight it was as clear as ever. She's still a little girl who needs a Daddy.
If you've studied attachment in adoption you know that one of the most effective ways to connect with your kids is to lay down with them as they fall asleep. Tonight I did. Immediately, Meke grabbed me around the neck, gave me a big smile, and burrowed her face into my chest. This didn't surprise me. We connected on the long miserable plane ride home.
Within a few short minutes Meke's breathing got deeper and her little arm went limp. I carefully grabbed her little hand, lifted it slightly enough to slither out from under it without disturbing her innocent slumber. As I did, a somewhat larger hand somehow found mine and picked up where the smaller one left off. Neti had felt the bed move and reached over Meke's body to find me.
I shuffled to the other side of the bed and lay down next to Neti. She grabbed me around my neck with a grip that wouldn't let go before I could find a comfortable position on their pillowless bed (they don't like pillows). Pulling me every bit as close as Meke did, she let out an audible sigh. It was the first hug I've received from her that clearly said, "I need Daddy."
For at least thirty minutes I endured the most physically uncomfortable, yet emotionally rewarding hug I've ever had. As her breathing deepened and yet another arm fell limp I tried lifting Neti's arm from my neck. Just before the escape was complete she grabbed my hand with both arms and pulled it close to her chest, intertwining her fingers with mine. This time my position was even more uncomfortable than before. Half my body in bed and half out, for another 15 minutes I enjoyed simply being Daddy.