Lima (LEE-muh) has a biological sister, Lisa, who was adopted several years ago by one of my dearest friends in adoption. Lisa now lives in Michigan with her family. Desperate for Lima to find a family of her own, she has been asking everyone her family meets if they would please adopt Lima. It’s challenging to find an adoptive family in Michigan for an eleven-year-old Russian girl visiting Tulsa for a few days, but Lisa is persevering anyway.
The first morning Lima was in Tulsa her host mom asked what she’d like to eat. In a charade with Lima “holding” a cone and pretending to lick it, her host mom deduced she’d like chocolate ice cream for breakfast, so the entire family shared a chilly meal. At Wal-Mart shopping for clothes, Lima chose a dress she thought a princess would wear and unseasonal high-heeled sandals. Her host mom, whom Lima called the Russian word for “Doll” when she forgot her name, melted at the joy with which the sandals were shown and could hardly say "nyet." At home, Lima enjoyed bubble baths, ate second and thirds of everything, and was transformed into Princess Lima with a flower girl dress and tiara. In an interview, the translator said Lima likes math. When Doll asked Lima if this was really true she was surprised to hear, “I like math, but I like bunnies better!”
Several days into the visit, Lisa called Lima and the two sisters heard each others’ voices for the first time in five years. Lisa had forgotten most of her Russian, and Lima’s English was limited, but Lima knew who Lisa was. She spent the rest of the day smiling and saying “I love you!” in honor of this conversation. Lisa sent a gift she’d made small enough to fit in the one carry-on Lima will be allowed to return to Russia with. Lima was expecting this package and made a point of asking every Russian speaker to ask Doll when her “big surprise” was coming. Much to Doll’s relief the surprise arrived in the mail this afternoon in time for Sunday’s morning return, containing two tiny dolls, a handkerchief embroidered by Lisa, a drawing, a letter, and a photo sheet. When Doll’s mother arrived, Lima ran to her yelling, “Babushka! Babushka!” pointing to both her own eyes and Lisa’s eyes in the photos. Lisa is a beautiful girl and the similarities were unmistakable.
Yesterday Lima went to the dentist. Through a translator Lima explained that she fell when she was little and hurt her jaw; consequently, her teeth are growing in very crooked. When she confided in the translator the reason she believed she was ugly and deformed, Doll begged to differ. The dentist said her smile could be corrected easily enough with braces. About 50% of children in America need braces, so Lima is no different than most, except she doesn’t have a mom or dad to provide her dental care or reassurance that she is beautiful when she doubts it.
Most crucially, Lima has a heart that is kind and good. She loves to help and aspires to be a doctor. While this is an unlikely occupation for the child the orphanage staff calls the “sunshine girl”, Doll thinks she’ll be a huge blessing for a family, adding, “She has been to ours.”