by Jen Stevens
There aren't many words to describe that moment when you meet your child for the first time. I had years to prepare and dream before our first daughter came. In my head I had built up this fairytale image... How when we looked into each other's eyes we would know each other.
In the beginning I thought that moment would be in a hospital room, looking into the face of a baby that had grown in my body. One that was synced to the rhythm of my heart.
When we started the adoption process that dream died and my new fairytale formed. While being her mom was my dream come true, that moment I had built up in my head wasn't meant to be. The reality of our first meeting was hard. Instead of the fairytale, our meeting followed exhausting days of travel. Unfamiliar sounds, foods, and customs, and a rushed schedule enforced by government officials.
The day we met, we were picked up at our hotel and rushed across town to the city orphanage. They asked that we place booties on to cover our shoes and then ushered us down the hall to wait. We paced in the silence of a small room until they brought our daughter to us. As they neared the room I could hear them talking, yet couldn't understand the words. It was just one more barrier in our initial connection. The words of comfort she knew were foreign to us. But we were determined.
As the door opened and they entered, my heart was in my stomach. She turned to look at us while clutching her caregiver. And the tears came, then the desperate sobs, as they told her we were going to be her "mama and papa". They encouraged me to take her and while I wanted to, I saw her fear, I felt her fear. She nuzzled into the woman's scarf and hid her face from me. I turned my back and choked back my own tears. I took a few deep breaths and reached into my bag for a toy and after showing her, I took her into my arms. That was it, I was holding my baby. My beautiful girl with big brown eyes and red hair. At 10 months old she was so tiny. I remember being able to feel every rib as my hand held her back. Barely 10 pounds, but every ounce was filled with fear. I held her close and stroked her hair. I knew we belonged together. In words she didn't understand I told her it would be ok.
And it was.