Our plane touched down on an African runway in the middle of the night. Thirty seven hours of flights through four different countries and the impending wave of jet lag did little to suppress our pulsing thrill at way lay ahead.
It was a mere six months after signing with our adoption agency, but we were more than ready. We had grieved over the loss of three babies, our failed stutters toward adoption through the foster care system. We jumped into an international adoption with both feet, navigating the choppy complications that come with the territory of being a lesbian couple. We squealed with disbelief at those beautiful referral photos, tracked their weights on percentile charts, shopped ourselves silly just to have something tangible to fold and sort, to remind us that we would have our children home someday.
It seemed like an eternity of waiting to now be sitting here with the love of my life, in the back of a beat up Honda squeezing her fingers between mine. There is nothing else in this world like driving over a pot-holed African road on the way to meet your babies for the first time. And then, to watch guards roll back the gate, and gaze upon the orphanage that has kept your children alive all this time. It’s overwhelming in every sense of the word. Your soul bursts with so many emotions that you can’t even try to name them. You don’t know whether to cry or laugh or sit still and soak it in.
They brought out Sailor first, an ear-to-ear grinning six-month-old diva exploding with personality. Her eyes flashed with life. She laughed at us. And in an instant, our world changed. Here was our daughter, the tiny baby we had so agonizingly watched grow in photos for months. And now she was reaching for our faces and glimmering with this humbling beacon of life-affirming optimism and wonder that still leaves me speechless.
Oliver came next. We’d barely had time to process one baby and I flipped on the camera again (Sailor on my hip) as the orphanage nanny brought Oliver down the stairs and handed him to Ryan. He was beautiful. More cautious. And so, so tiny – barely nine pounds at six months. Later we would find out he was born two months premature, just over 3 lbs, with no hospital or doctors or a NICU equipped with breathing tubes. He’s our little fighter. Our miracle.
Nothing about adoption is unemotional. It’s a rollercoaster of highs and lows and the helpless sense of being punched in the gut when you least expect it. It comes at a cost, this almost magical forging of family from four corners of the earth.
The waiting and the paperwork and the watching from afar as Oliver’s weight hovered around impossible numbers while we sat helpless on the other side of the world…those were the lows. Getting “the call,” meeting our babies, the court appearance where a judged declared us a family, and every moment since where we sit in awe at our beautiful, healthy babies who reach up to us and coo “mama” …those are our highs, and how heavily they outweigh the lows.
Emma is an adoptive mama, amateur photographer, and baby fashionista on a budget. She and her partner brought home their son and daughter from Africa in early 2012. She blogs about adoption, attachment, and balancing life with one-year-old “twiblings” at Adoptionistas.com.
Read More Success Stories on Adoption