Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. January 24, 2012. An ordinary day for most, but for my husband and I, it was monumental. It was the day we met our daughter.
The 30-month wait was over and we were finally going to be a family.
We awoke that morning at 3:45am. Partially due to the 8-hour time difference, but mostly due to our sheer excitement to meet our daughter. There was no going back to sleep! We anxiously awaited daylight and the arrival of our driver who would bring us to our daughter.
When we got to the building where our daughter lived, we were taken up to the children’s playroom. We were to remain there until a different room was prepared for us, a space where we would meet our daughter and be able to spend some quiet time together getting to know her.
In the playroom, we watched and laughed as the other babies crawled about. We looked on as the nannies lovingly cared for them. Within a few minutes, our interpreter was back and lowering a baby into my arms. As she did so, I heard her say, “Here she is…”
WHAT?!?! This was the moment? I was so surprised! I thought we were going to be taken to the other room to meet her. I hadn’t pictured this moment yet – what should I do? Say? And for goodness’ sake… we didn’t even have the camera ready!
In that split second, as my daughter was placed in my arms, a switch in me flipped and I went completely into mom mode. I wanted to do everything I could to reassure my little girl that she was safe and loved. I held her at a bit of a distance in case my foreign white skin startled her. I gently soothed her by rubbing her arms and legs. I spoke to her quietly using the handful of Amharic words I knew. I watched and waited for her cues to let me know what I should do next.
Yes, it was my big moment – this moment I had dreamed of for so long. This moment I had longed for to the point of tears often during our adoption wait. It was THE magical moment! But I didn’t want it to come at her expense. It wasn’t about me, after all. It was now about us.
So we took things slow. We built trust. We poured out our hearts. And together we three began writing the next chapter of our lives: Family.