One year ago today, Katya declared to a Ukrainian judge that she wanted to become our daughter.
“I have no friends,” she said.
“I’m ready to go to America,” she said.
“I want you to be my Mama and Papa forever,” she said.
We left the six to go after the one, but we knew we’d be back. We knew that our month of separation would come to an end. We knew that regardless of the outcome, this labor of love would result in a reunion with the six.
What Katya did took much more courage.
She left her homeland.
She left her culture.
She left her language.
And most painful, she left her grandmother.
On October 26, 2009, Kateryna Grabchenko declared that her old life was over and she was ready to embrace her new life as Kateryna Joy Finley. This morning she woke up in Princess Paradise with her sister, Piper, in the bed beside her. She chose her own shirt, her own jeans, her own socks, and her own shoes, and meandered downstairs. While I toasted her English muffin and she decided what kind of yogurt to have, I said to her, “Today is a special day. Last year on this day you became our daughter.”
She’s not interested in celebrating. She likes pretending that she has always been my daughter, that she was the baby in my tummy, that she was born in America and not Ukraine. She scowls at me if someone notices her accent and asks where she is from. “Mama, just say that I am your daughter, ” she says. And so I do.
There will be a time for her to integrate her past with her present, but not yet. There will be a time for her to learn to make borscht, but not now. Now is the time to quietly celebrate and thank the Lord that he allowed us to be his hands and feet to bring Katya out of an institution and into a family. Would you join me?