Lidia, my fourth daughter, just turned nineteen last Friday.
It's amazing to think that she has been our daughter for only nine of those nineteen years. At least in chronological time. In heart time she has always been a part of us.
This is the photo that introduced her to us. My wife Kim was an adoption specialist at an agency in Chicago when she saw this photo in an email among many other photos of "hard to place" children from an orphanage in Guatemala. She came home that night and showed it to me, and said, "I think this is our daughter...." And she was.
She was nine when we went to Guatemala to meet her and bring her home to Chicago, and she had her tenth birthday a month after her arrival.
She came with not a word of English, and had never been in school a day in her life. She was malnourished and had suffered severe abuse. But she had, and still has, an indomitable will and unquenchable spirit, and she had learned one lesson well in her hard life: she knew how to survive.
Now she will graduate from high school in two weeks. She lives with her boyfriend in a nearby town. They have been together for over a year, and they are well-suited and happy. She has a job now, and with Rodrigo's income they're getting by. She has applied to Community College and is exploring options beyond minimum wage. She is no longer just surviving; she is making a life for herself.
Most importantly, she is happy. Of all the things we could give her, that was what we most wanted her to have.
She has also been a valued fishing companion over the past few years. She was more than willing to try out a fly rod, she loves Trout Lake, and, as it does for me, that contest between trout and fisherman sometimes became personal for her. I remember one little trout that kept hitting her dry fly and she kept missing. She refused to leave that spot until she had caught it.
And she has caught some good ones. Way back before I had my own camera she caught a 20 inch Rainbow at Trout Lake on a little Caddis dry fly. She cried out, "Daddy, I have a fish! It's a big one!!" Before I could even begin to try to explain how to carefully play it on a 5X tippet she--very Lidia-like--was reeling away with all her might, and before I could get the net extended she had hoisted that fish out of the water and into the canoe. She wanted to take that fish home with her, and I'm glad we were able to get a photo with Kim's camera.
So happy birthday, Lid. I couldn't be more proud to be your Dad.