a little and a lot

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Day After Independence

5 weeks before, she had walked into the visitors' room of the orphanage, bursting into tears as she saw the large amount of strangers in front of her. She calmed down as we sat on the floor with her. She let me feed her lunch. She fell asleep in my arms.

5 weeks later, I spent Independence Day on a flight from Washington DC to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia...on my way to be(come?) her mother.

Had I become a mother when I completed the mountain of paperwork for an unknown child in the fall of 2009?  Had I become a mother when we were added the the waiting list and I prayed for that unknown child daily through 2010?

Had I become her mother in mid-January 2011 when I accepted the referral of that beautiful 9-month-old little girl in the picture?

Had I become her mother when I met her in the visitors' room that day in late May...or later that week when it became "legal" as our case passed court and the judge said, "She is yours."

She was ours. I considered myself her mother.  I celebrated it on that certain Sunday in May.  But thousands of miles separated us. It wasn't me who saw her little sleepy eyes first thing in the morning. I didn't know how she spent her days. No one rocked her to sleep. She was mine...I was her mother...and yet, in some ways, she was not and I was not...

Independence Day was spent in the air with the following must-haves for a 14-hour transatlantic flight:
  • Athletic compression socks (I loved mine from Swiftwick)
  • Camelback water bottle (to fill up more than a tiny plastic cup with water when the flight attendant passed by)
  • iPad with "Hellhound on His Trail" (Hampton Sides) and "Bossypants" (Tina Fey) loaded and ready to read
  • Ambien for the impossible feat of sleeping on a plane

We arrived in Addis the morning after Independence Day.  A few short hours later, I was signing papers at the orphanage, holding my daughter in my arms as I walked out the front gate, getting into a taxi and driving away...

She was quiet, curious, and observant.  I tried not to overwhelm.  I spoke softly and smiled encouragingly and inwardly freaked out with joy and sheer not-knowing-what-I-was-doing-ness.  I held the little girl craning her neck to watch out the dashboard, took a deep breath, and (if it hadn't happened already) in that moment, I definitely became a mother.


Jane said...

Beautiful and congratulations on being a new mom!!!! It has been a blessing to follow you through this journey, and I hope you continue to share it all with your readers and friends.

Craig Maddox said...

I love all my girls.

Anonymous said...

Hi... I don't know you personally bit I've kept up with your blog. I am so happy for you. You will love seeing the world through her eyes. Even the smallest "life experiences" will seem all new to you. Savor every second. What a blessing!

Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more