A two and a half inch thick binder stuffed with overflowing page protectors stayed either safely tucked under my arm when in transit or far out of reach on a special shelf for 16 months. Sixteen months. That's twice the amount of time I carried our twin daughters inside the warmth of my womb. It's the amount of time that I prayed, daily, for the well-being of our son, and that he would be safe in the warmth of someone who loved him as much as I knew we would.
March 9, 2009...a "memory marker" day that will be forever sacred in my mind. It was the day I saw his gleaming brown eyes in person for the first time.
The day started out with our family enjoying a special breakfast together before we became "plus one" more that afternoon. While riding to the orphanage you could have heard a pin drop in our taxi. I think it was perhaps "shock" and reality of what was about to happen. Upon our arrival at the orphanage we could see several welcoming faces through the glass doors. Our minds raced as we processed the fact that we would walk in to the building a couple but depart with our little son finally in our embrace! We held our breath and walked over the threshold of a new chapter of our lives.
As we entered the building we were immediately welcomed and ushered past the front desk, down the hall, out the side door, across an alley and into another building. The first door on our right was opened with chairs waiting for us. There was minimal paperwork to sign and receive, all of which were nearly a blur in anticipation of the moments to come. Our minds raced, "Where is our son; what room is he in? Is he crying? Is he playing? Does he have any idea what is about to happen?".
Within moments the foster mother was brought in. We could see that she was diligently trying to hold back the tears. Our joy and excitement suddenly became still as we realized that our day of joy was about to become a day of sadness for her. As she graciously answered every question we had, her love for our son was more evident. You could see it in her eyes, hear it in her cracking voice, feel it from her heart. A picture was taken; just her and us. A moment of passage.
All of a sudden it felt as if our hearts would stop when the foster mother exited and moments later a social worker entered holding the little boy in our pictures. Our hearts went wild with instant love and longing to hold and cuddle our new son. But he was not ready for that, or us, yet. Yet. But the moment would come. Smiles filled our faces as we saw him. His beautiful brown eyes captivated our attention, his mile-wide smile stole our hearts! As he came in the room "instantly" he raised his little pointer finger and directed it to my husband and said, "Babba!". The social worker translated, "He just called you Daddy!". We were in awe!
In the remaining moments we were introduced to the birthmother, exchanged comments and hugs, took a few more photos...and suddenly were out the door. Not two but three, just as we imagined. Our "Gotcha" Day had arrived, we were holding a dream that began 5 years before. Suddenly, our son was no longer in a binder under my arm, but a bundle of delight in our arms.
Though our son would not come to me at first, I waited patiently for him to transition emotionally and mentally from his foster mother to me. I knew the time would come...he just needed his time...to grieve. And come, it did. Within a day he stopped taking me by the finger, pointing at the doors and windows for "Mama" (his foster mother) and begin to let me hold and cuddle him. Within a day he began to call me the treasured name, "Mama". It was a natural segue. Without question, he had been well prepared for it by his foster mother and the orphanage, and we were so thankful.
Our precious son has now been a part of our family since March 9, 2009. He is healthy, full of energy, eager to learn, fun loving, and a forever part of our family. He is ours and we are his. We thank God for making our dream a reality.
We want to express our deepest gratitude to Gladney Center for Adoption for "stepping up to the plate" and helping us complete our adoption journey. It is with the highest regard that we recommend Gladney to families considering adoption. Their integrity, sincerity and sense of family are the fuel that propels them forward to be a blessing to so many children!