Add this to the list of unexpected events in our journey: we received more photos and video of Penelope from her time at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village (SFCV).
During our last correspondence with Sara at SFCV she asked permission to give my email address to a volunteer from the States. This volunteer had met Penelope during one of her trips. Jenn and I agreed and wondered when we would be contacted. This week we received an email from Heather, the volunteer
Sara had mentioned to us.
“I met Penelope (then Shanna) when I as at SFCV in 2010 and spent a lot of time holding her. After I came home, my family and I sponsored her until she went home with you. I was so happy when I found out that she was matched with a forever family!! I wanted to write and say congratulations and to send you a link to some pictures I have on line of your beautiful daughter.”
She provided a link to several photo albums and emailed a video of baby Penelope in her crib playing with a mobile. Jenn and I watched those 10 seconds over and over, moved to tears at seeing our little girl lying there, reaching up and grabbing swinging teddy bears with her tiny arms. Brief though the video may be her tenacious nature and attentiveness was in her eyes.
After navigating the technological options for transferring large files, Heather uploaded 4 lengthier videos of Penelope, eliciting more tears and wonder.
As joyous as I am about the additional connection to her past it serves as yet another reminder of all we missed. And we missed so much. Three surgeries, months of recuperation, daily feedings, baths, and play time. So much. Ignorance may be bliss after all. I could create any scenario I want about those years. The gaps currently occupied by imagination are replaced with photographs, time lines, and a sense of loss. Is all this selfish? Absolutely.
Conversely, I’m excited as Penelope grows we can look back at the photos, watch the videos, and discuss her time in concrete terms and dates. We can reach out to the people who loved and cared for her when both her biological and adoptive parents could not.
If I forget to say it in the future, let me say it now; to all the Aiyi’s, the volunteers who made the uncomfortable flight to China and gave of their time and resources, and Tim Baker, Sara Zhou, and the entire staff at SFCV – thank you.
One last note to those who may be reading this. If you’re so inclined, please take a moment to look over SFCV website and consider sponsoring one of the children. Heather and Isabella were Penelope’s room mates.