How can you even begin to describe meeting the child you will know for the rest of her life. The first time you see her face that you are lucky enough to watch age and grow into adulthood? Seriously hard freaking task.
First of all Davy’s current home is at the Holt International Care Center in Durame Ethiopia. She has lived there practically all of her life. It’s her home. And well it’s not her forever home, it’s a pretty good place for her to start her life.
Durame is 6 hours south of Addis. The drive down to Durame is as slow of torture as you could imagine. Nine families piled into two vans, five were meeting their kids for the first time and the others had birth parent meetings. Everybody was a nervous wreck. The last 90 minutes of the drive were on a bumpy dirt road. We drove through some of the most beautiful country side we saw in Ethiopia. This is the region where most of our kids come from, its green and lush and looks oddly like Oregon. We also had to stop several times. First a break for the drivers. It’s a hard drive and they really needed a break. Then we stopped at the maternal and child health hospital that Holt runs. Then we arrive in Durame and simply had the worst lunch of our lives. Really. How the heck are you suppose to eat when you are about to meet your kid? Lunch took forever. Forever.
When we finally left the restaurant, Andy (with video camera in hand) asked if I had any final words before we met Davy. I said “Davy we are coming for you” then I tripped. I stumbled because I can’t walk and talk at the same time. The video is hysterical because then i started convulsively laughing. Hysterically laughing. Perfect moment.
Then I got immediately weepy. I kept saying to Andy. Oh my god. We are going to see her. Oh my god. He just grabbed my hand and held it tight. It was the only time I cried that day.
We finally arrive at the care center. Everybody just stood there stunned. Nobody wanted to go in first. The nurse was there. She shook our hands, introduced herself. We had to take off our shoes and put on slippers. We entered a small room and all of our kids were just sitting there. Apparently it’s a joke that the nannies like to play to see if the parents can spot their kids. Davy was sitting farthest away from us. Did I recognize her little face? How could I not. It’s the face I have been dreaming about for the last 5 months. She was sitting up, wearing the prettiest white dress with a pink T-shirt underneath it. I reach down, picked up her tiny perfect body and held her to my face. She looked at me straight in the eye and gave me a huge gummy smile. She is our daughter. She knew it. We knew it. Love at first sight. Love at first sight. Our beautiful, smily, girl. Our friendly, brave present girl. She smiled at us. I hugged her so tight. Gave her to Andy. He hugged her so tight. We both laughed a little. Yeah that’s our daughter.
We had such a short time with her. Many people complain that it was too short. It was about 2 hours total. We could have spent every waking moment when we were in Ethiopia and it would have been too short. The fact that we needed to leave her means it wasn’t enough time. Here is what you can learn about your child in two hours (actually quite a bit):
She is universally loved by the nannies. Those nannies have the hardest job on earth. Their job is to love and raise other peoples children and then never see them again. We think we have hard jobs as adoptive parents, but their job is so much harder. They don’t just pretend to love those kids. They truly love those kids. Davy is the happiest baby I have ever met. All she has to do is raise her arms and fuss a little and there are a gaggle of people to love on her. This isn’t her forever home, its not a mom and dad, but this has been her life and her home. She is happy, loved, secure and healthy. I am not worried about her. I am worried about me surviving this tortuous final wait. But her? She is in the best hands possible. She is loved by many many many people. Truly loved.
She is brave. I had expressed concern that she might be shy. She ain’t shy. She is perfect. She never met us before. She smiled at us. Looked us in the eyes. Laughed at our foibles. She was fascinated by my glasses. She kept pulling them off my face and putting them in her mouth. We put my glasses on her (our daughter is already Andy’s comedic prop). We have a photo of her wearing my glasses and her throwing her head back in laughter. THAT is our kid. She kept tugging on Andy’s beard and laughing. She was fascinated by our camera. Andy’s iphone (oy vey). She loved the little buddy I made for her. She tolerated my awkward baby holding skills (I am a newbie).
She is the cure for cynics. There are a few people who have met her before we did. They described her as sweet. Sweet? Her parents are hard talking, gum smacking cynics. She is sweetness personified. She is a girly girl. Oh my god she looks so good in pink! She has a sweet face, sweet smile, sweet girly demeanor. We have have fake conversations with her. It’s something we have been doing for months. In our fake conversations she is funny and sarcastic. She isn’t funny and sarcastic or even a sassafras (it will come she is still a baby) she is sweet, soft and beautiful. She is sweet as pie our Davy girl. She smells good. All that bullshit about our kid wearing pink seems so dumb now.
Words of wisdom from the head nurse. She said (in beautiful Kembatta accented English). “Your baby is sweet baby, your baby is funny baby, she is a good baby, she doesn’t sleep at night.” I will remember this at 3 a.m. and remember that she warned us.
Our girl is a looker, who amazingly looks like us. All of the the kids in Andy’s family have his tired eyes. It’s almost a family joke how the kids come out of the womb looking exhausted. Davy has Andy’s tired, wide set eyes. Can’t explain how that happened but she really does. The nannies kept pointing to my hair and Davy’s hair. Davy has curly hair that stands up. So do I. She plays with her hair. She has unusual hair, loose ringlets. Doing-able curls. In the photos of her she has two ringlets on the very top of her head. I can’t wait to play with that hair. God she is beautiful. She has a pointy chin, tiny ears. Her mouth. Oh my god that perfect little mouth. Her mouth is a tiny circle surrounded by soft sweet lips. She kind of looks like a human child version of an owl. Giant eyes on tiny tiny delicate features. Her skin is the most perfect color and the softest skin ever. She has an outty belly button. The belly button that connected her to her first mother. The belly button that may have been cut by her first father. I am glad for this outty belly button. It is what will remind us of her past. Chubby feet, a stubby toe nail on her big toe. Chunky baby knees. The most kissable neck on the planet. We have photos. We aren’t allowed to post photos of her publicly until we have custody. But we can email them. Just ask me. I will email them. I am one proud momma.
We had such high hopes for our two hours. I brought a tape measure so I can make sure all of those sweaters I made her would fit. Didn’t take them. Meant to take more video, didn’t take enough. Was suppose to trace her feet. Uh, totally forgot.
We played with our daughter. Saw her crib. She got fussy, I got nervous. The nanny handed me a bottle. Oh yeah, a bottle! Andy and i fed our sweet girl a bottle. She tolerated her mommies awkwardness as this new thing for me. She took her bottle, drifted off to sleep in our arms. My favorite family photos of of her asleep in my arms. Andy and I looking at her in wonder. Two befuddled adults totally in love with this sleeping creature. Her feet our crossed. She is totally relaxed. It might be the most imitate photo of us taken.
Then it was time to leave. One of the embassy families. A dear woman, who I grew to love, rubbed my arm and asked me if I was okay. I knew leaving her would be hard. I was expecting it to be the hardest moment of my life. This process has brought a lot of hard moments. Ironically it wasn’t THE hardest (not yet). Our daughter is loved beyond measure. The women who selflessly love and raise her in our absence wholeheartedly, and truly love her. They love her as much as we love her. I know our Davy girl is fine. Really better than fine. She has experienced more people loving her in her 6 months of life then most children. Her first family, her birth family loved her. The women who live with her love her, we love her. her grandparents love her, our friends and family love her. This little pip-squeak of a person has transcended continents, cultures, people and families. We are all and forever connected because of her. I don’t really know what more you can ask for.