For four years I have tried to focus my energy on the light at the end of the tunnel: the moment when someone who spoke a language that I didn’t know walked into the room I was waiting in and handed me the child I had been praying for. I thought I knew what it would be like to reach out my arms, look into our child’s brown eyes and say “Hi, you! We’ve been waiting for you!” I thought it would register that this was the moment that I was working for. That we have been holding our breaths for, for four long years.
It was both exactly like that, and mostly nothing like that.
The plan was that each day, Monday through Thursday, we would have two visits with Rosie, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (after her lunch and nap). When we arrived for our scheduled meeting with the director Monday morning, we learned that baby was sick and was not able to visit until the following day. My heart felt heavy, and I tried to maintain a positive expression on my face and reassured her that rosie’s health is the most important concern of ours, that we understood.
Tears stinging my eyes, we were summoned to follow the director into the elevator, where it opened on a lower level. We were lead through a dark room into another tiny room painted a cheerful green. She motioned for us to sit down, so we did, having no idea what we were waiting for. She left, and soon arrived with a little girl in her arms. I was completely floored. I had not prepared at all for this moment today, despite so many days before of dreaming of it.
“May I hold her?” I asked, reaching out for Rosie. The director laughed and said “Here, mama!” and I lifted my baby from her arms, and immediately held her close to my body, whispering in her ear. It was all so surreal, I am not even sure what I said. The lump in my throat was too big to contain, and I didn’t want to scare her, so I closed my eyes and just held her, soaking her in.
There was no fanfare in that basement room, nothing that I considered photo worthy, but there was so much love, immediately. Later our translator would tell us that my face changed so much when Rosie entered that he had to take a picture to send to his wife, and I briefly thought that I would like to see that picture, but I feel strongly that the memories we made that day will be imprinted on my heart regardless.
I handed her to Brian and she looked up at him and smiled. While her acceptance of my snuggling could have been a fear response to someone she didn’t know, her reaction to him was unmistakable. When I saw his eyes wet with tears (something that never happens for this fella of mine), I knew the feeling was mutual.
We had an hour with her and she delighted in the contact. She reached for her daddy’s finger to hold, and she gave me her sweet face to kiss over and over. Though sick, she was in happy spirits and offered several smiles that we fell apart over.
As suddenly as our visit began, it was over and time for baby to return to her bed to rest and heal. Our translator was outside fixing the flat tire we busted on the way in, so it was just us, the director, and a language barrier, but she was kind enough to take us upstairs where Rosie sleeps so we could see her space, and then escort us back outside.
We stepped outside, day one, from the orphanage, forever changed.