We are sitting here waiting to meet our new daughter. Never in my life have I wanted to impress a four year old so badly. I feel so very ready and at the same time completely unprepared. Keep praying for us! Thanks for you sweet comments and encouragement! You don't know how much that means to us!
I feel like I was admitted to the hospital Saturday and we are finally being wheeled into labor and delivery now. I will never forget the first child born of my heart. I can't help but remember the day I first met our precious Daniel.
My longing to adopt began when I was a little girl. This longing continued to grow early in our marriage but Brad wasn't feeling it was the right time. But in the summer of 2007 we heard about a need for 27 children in an orphanage in Guatemala to find families. That call for help ended with us being the last person on a list of folks who had inquired about adopting and our son Daniel being the last child on that list still needing a family. We had many confirmations during our adoption that being matched with this precious boy was no accident. I'm still in awe at how what seemed so random was so providential.
What made this process easier was the fact that we were going through this journey with 9 other families from our church who were also adopting from the same orphanage. And in November of 2007 several of us plus some other friends from our church, went on a mission trip to help at the orphanage with the added blessing of us getting to meet the children we were adopting for the first time.
I had been on mission trips before, but it's different when you know you will be bringing home a souvenir that wears underpants and calls you mom. (I knew he wouldn't come home with me on this trip but we all thought our kids would be home by that spring.) The reality of this fact hit me on our flight to Guatemala. The paperwork was done. A complete stranger was about to be our son and there was no turning back. I was feeling all kinds of cold feet knowing once I introduced myself as his mom this would be for forever. I felt like a little kid on a high dive with no ladder of escape. I had no choice but to jump into the deep end of the pool and start swimming.
I'm a white knuckle air traveler and the turbulence on the flight and within my being didn't help. We landed at their tiny airport and I followed my friends through customs, silently taking it all in. We pushed our way through a crowd of locals grabbing at our luggage with the hope that they could carry it to our van and make a little money. I got my first glimpse at children selling their wares and begging for help. I was a domesticated animal that had been let loose in the wild. I wanted to go home.
We hopped in our getaway van--no seatbelts or air-conditioning in a land where the need for emissions inspections had not crossed anyone's minds. Black smoke poured out of every tailpipe and white feathers drifted out of every chicken bus. I was in the back row of our van holding onto my carry-on bag like a security blanket. It was a long drive up winding mountainous roads--the beauty of the Guatemalan landscape juxtaposed with people living in shacks with cardboard walls and tin roofs. There was an occasional storefront with American signage--a McDonalds, a Pizza Hut, a Chuck E. Cheese in the midst of barefooted children wandering dangerously close to a road without a speed limit accompanied only by a dog with open sores and ribs showing.
I closed my eyes as the wind blew in from the open windows--I was praying for peace and keeping my contact lenses from clouding up from the polluted air. A headache had turned into a full-blown migraine and I was getting the business end of it behind my left eye. Occasionally someone would call from the front of the van to check on me, "Kathie, you okay back there?" I'd give them a thumbs up and mouth the words, "Awesome!" but I knew I wasn't fooling anyone that the bag of peanuts eaten on the plane was dangerously close to reappearing.
Then there was the announcement that we were almost at the orphanage. I felt a knot in my stomach--all nerves, no excitement. I was so disappointed in myself.
I did all I could to take control of a situation that was so out of my control. I applied hand-sanitizer, popped a breath mint, and reapplied my lipstick. Not an easy task on these gravel roads. I looked at my traveling companions--some smiling, some chatting, some taking photos to never forget the excitement of the day, all looking like they had stepped out of an L.L. Bean catalog if they carried a mission trip collection. I, on the other hand, had hair that had been teased by the wind and the smog and had lipstick zig-zagging from my chin to my nose. I was going to meet my new son looking like a clown from a horror movie.
We entered the iron gates of the orphanage. The number of children greeting us as we stepped out of the van was overwhelming. A friend who had arrived a few days earlier asked if I was ready to meet Daniel. My mouth said yes but my mind said no. We walked into his dorm with a courtyard full of children ages 0 to 8. I spotted my sweet boy in a sea of big brown eyes. A mom knows her child and it was like we recognized each other. I leaned down to say hello and he put his arms around my neck. It was one of the sweetest moments of my life. That moment was every bit as special as the moments that I held my other children for the first time. The week I was there was truly special yet heartbreaking that I couldn't bring him home. Little did I know that it would be another 2 years before finally coming home. It was that very first hug that kept me going and kept us fighting.
I'm grateful that today, Ella won't have to wait for us to come back and get her. I pray that she recognizes us as her new mom and dad and she will know how much we love her from the very beginning. I'm so very grateful that God has blessed us once again through the miracle of adoption.