Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 4

I'll be honest - the waiting wasn't a walk in a corn field, that first time around, but it wasn't the end of the world, either. We were incapable of fathoming, at that kidless place in our life, what would be ours at the other end of the wait. We were excited to become parents in the way you might be excited to go to Disney World for the very first time. You've heard the hype, and you believe it, but until you lay eyes on that castle? Well, it's all a bit theoretical.

We knew by then that our child would most likely be a boy. So, we painted the walls blue and ripped out the existing pink carpet. We sanded down floors and I launched an exhaustive search for the perfect painting of a fishing boat.

I remember lying in bed at night, our room pristine, our home quiet enough to classify as its own genre of sound, praying for an almond-eyed, shiny-haired life, a whole world away. It was strange, knowing that my child was alive somewhere, making his way, yet still a stranger to me.

I was also aware that there was a grieving almond-eyed birth mother somewhere, adrift and forever changed. I felt the early bruises of being on the receiving end of "the collision of forfeit and gift"*. What I could not have known then was that those yellow-tinged bruises would take up permanent residence in the chapter of my heart which carries my love for the First
Mommies of all my children.

Never knowing how to pray for certain, we covered all our bases. We prayed for the life of our future baby, only a twinkle in his heavenly Father's eye. Later, we prayed for our baby, in his birth mama's tummy. Toward the end, we prayed for our son, out in the world, waiting for his family. We never knew for sure where we really were in this waiting game.

Sitting at my desk on an ordinary June day, the phone rang.

Amid piles of months and paperwork, hopes barely clearing the doorways, nerves bundled up and stacked, anticipation oozing between the floorboards, I was not prepared. Across the line, she told me all about him while tears dripped onto my work and I marveled, right then and there, that I had already become that Mom whose emotions stand guard in vigilance, inextricably connected to the life of another.

The next day I worked, or, pretended to work from the impractical iron chair on the porch, awaiting a delivery of photos from the FedEx man. They arrived and, scooping up every ounce of musterable self-control, I waited for Cory to get his tail home. Together we saw, for the first time, the eyes of our son. Perfection is what we saw. Perfection, wrapped up in a romper, propped up on a large, orange chair.

I made the rounds the following day wearing an Asian-print skirt, armed with everything I knew of Calvin Lee, which wasn't very much, but was more than enough. I showed him off and when others cried, I joined right in.

I didn't know how to be a mommy yet. I had not received special training overnight. There was not an instruction manual included in the FedEx envelope. I was still Shannan and I was still the same, except for one little detail - A round-faced, tightly fisted, mohawk-sporting little dude had infiltrated my heart and my soul.

We braced ourselves for the next 3-4 months, already bearing down on us after just a few days. The wait had officially become torturous. More times a day than I could count, I stared at his photo and did my best to memorize him.

I was his mommy, and knowing that changed every last thing.


Join me here next Tuesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 5

(To catch up on Chapters 1-3, click here and start from the bottom.)

*This is a favorite quote found in a book several years ago. That's all I remember for now. I'll have to get back to you...