Last week my dear friend Keren sent me an excited text. I met Keren a little over a year ago, when we joined Spence-Chapin's South Africa program. She and her husband have been incredibly supportive throughout our adoption process. They are both South African themselves, though they now live in the states. Keren's husband actually helped open Ethembeni Children's Home many years ago. They stopped by Ethembeni in December of 2011, when they visited South Africa with their two daughters. After we received Hula's referral, Keren looked back through her photos to see if she had any early pictures of our girl, but she didn't find anything. Fast forward to last week, when this sweet picture showed up in my inbox:
I gasped the moment I saw the photo. I knew in an instant that it was our Hula girl. The photo was taken when she was just nine months old. Keren combed through the rest of her files, and found this photo as well, of her younger daughter also playing with Hula:
Just before falling asleep, I received one more excited message from Keren, telling me to check my email. When I did, I couldn't help but cry. She had found a video clip of Hula crawling towards her daughter. A video of Hula smiling and wearing a gigantic diaper. A video of Hula looking healthy and happy and very much loved.
I showed the video to Hula the next morning, and her reaction was absolutely priceless. At first her eyes went wide as a quiet grin spread across her face. Then she asked to watch it again. The second time around, she began to giggle. She then climbed onto my lap and took the phone from me, holding it just inches from her face to watch again. "Mama, that's ME!" she finally said.
Many of us grew up watching countless home videos of ourselves as a baby. We can picture exactly what we looked like, how our squeals sounded, and how our parents reacted to our every move. Similarly, we can look into our parents' faces and see parts of ourselves reflected. I've always known that someday we'll have to help Hula accept all of the loss and unknowns that are part of her story- the years that we weren't there, and the moments and details that no one was able to capture. But now, thanks to Keren, she will at least have this. To me, this video is worth more than gold.