Friday, April 22, 2011

A good Friday

It didn't take her long, but then it never does.

Just a few minutes after our arrival, shortly after the exchange of hugs and kisses, the few introductions and the exclamations of "Look how tall she is!" -- along with the obligatory side-by-side comparisons to just about everybody --  she is off and running. And it is almost like she never left.

She fits right in, her dark skin matching theirs. Her brown eyes matching theirs. My blue eyes -- different.


Within minutes she is in her brand new swim suit, jumping into the pool with the cousins she barely knows and can hardly remember. Kids are kids. And family is family.

And this is tradition.

Good Friday is the day we bring Lora Leigh home, to her family, to her people, to her roots.  To her mother and her sister and all the aunts and uncles and cousins who aren't getting to watch her grow up.

But they've seen it.


We've been doing this for 10 years now -- with a few exceptions -- setting aside Good Friday for Lora's family. Every year we make the trip down the bayou to the little blue house where she would be living if her mother had not given her to us.  She gets to see them, they get to see her and we get to eat the best boiled crawfish, crabs and shrimp the Gulf of Mexico has to offer.

Oh, they laugh at my up-the-bayou ways of peeling my crabs, my demand for plain old red ketchup to go with them and my one Coors Light,  while Marty hands me the keys and tries to match them Bud Light-for-Bud Light.

Soon enough my old Cajun accent comes back and I start sounding a little bit like them, while my Chicago and California-raised husband tries to understand us and our Houma jokes.

And they make fun of me for looking up every few seconds to see where she is and what she is doing, checking to make sure she's doing OK and having a good time.

"She's OK, momma," her mother says to me.

I know she is.  And so do they.

And that's the whole point of this open adoption experiment of ours.  To make sure that she is OK and that they know it. They can see that she is healthy and happy. I am sure to tell them that she is smart and talented and oh-so-creative, that she writes wonderful stories and draws beautiful pictures.  That she has made the Honor Roll twice this school year.

But I have to cajole her into showing off her beautiful voice -- maybe a little too hard.  But, just like me, they are brought to tears by the sound.

Hours later, exhausted and full, we start to say our good-byes. There are lots of hugs and kisses and "See you soons."  But, this time, there is an exchange of cell phone digits among the cousins, and promises to call.

Later I ask my sun-kissed child, "Did you have fun?

"Yes, I did," she replies.

"I'm glad we do that," I say.

"So am I," she says.

Lora's sister Ashlee, Lora, me and her birthmother, Gail








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