Soap-caked and scraggly the black Barbie and her white Barbie sister lay at the bottom of the dried up tub. Abandoned, and slightly stuck to the inner side where they were less conspicuous, it had been two days since they bounced and swam with force by three year-old hands through the warm bubbly water. I stood staring at them and my eyes burned with the filling of another set of tears. I had scrubbed her chubby body quickly while explaining where she was about to go, that she was leaving us for awhile. She had cried and I cheerfully chatted on about all the fun she would have, first at her Grandma's, then to Mommy's (where she loves to visit anyway). I told her how spoiled and loved she would be. I was careful not to let a smidgen of my heartache slip through my voice. It would be unfair. She wouldn't understand, it would confuse her, and it wouldn't be fair to her momma who was taking her back. Two Barbies--one black, one white--a symbol of two families united. Now, as they lay in my tub, her absence was even more obvious. I left them there and walked out of the bathroom.
Prayer is a powerful thing. We knew when we brought little Ashanti into our home two years ago that it would be prayer that would sustain us through the tantrums and sleepless nights. We knew crying out to God would be our only choice when we were faced with big questions. It would be deep and sincere prayers of gratitude that we would utter because this exuberant and adorable girl changed our world and our family for the better. And, now, it will be in prayer that we feel our Father hold us tight as we mourn the everyday loss of her sweet presence. It was prayer that took her from us too. Good prayers. Fasting and petitioning God for His wisdom for what was right for this tiny person. We felt that growing up with her birth-momma would help her to know where she came from, that the woman who brought her into this world loved her and wanted to raise her, that she had a heritage. We knew we had been a good temporary substitute, but we prayed for strength for the day her momma would parent her full-time. And that day came.
We sat around the table on the deck last night and my husband asked our children how they were feeling about Ashanti leaving. There were honest responses about annoying little preschooler behaviour they wouldn't miss, and then there were the stories. The stories made us laugh and then the voice imitations of her raspy little sounds led to even more hysterics. I reminisced about all the surprising and beautiful things Ashanti's mother taught me about her African culture. We had agreed and we had disagreed on a few things. She had questioned Canadian ways, but we always respected each other.
Our girl was deemed our "goddaughter" by her mother and we had stood by at Ashanti's dedication to the Lord when she was just a few months old. This was a very important title to her mother, she said, and so, she has promised to share her little girl's future with us. How loving and giving of our God to allow us the privilege of rearing a child for a couple of years and then keeping us connected to her so we can see the profound things He will do in her as she grows. All good answers to prayer, no matter how the emotions wash over in this moment.
Two Barbies still lay in the bathtub. One is black and one is white. Two families are united and God is in the middle of it all.