We drove 7 hours along bumpy roads with no air conditioning in the van. We passed town after town that started to all look the same. Shanties along the road with goods to sell and “bota bota’s” (motorcycles) weaving in and out of traffic. Then we began to see the luscious hills, farms with crops ripe for the picking, and cows and goats grazing along the road. “Are we there yet?” Ki asked in anticipation as he sat on Justin’s lap in the front seat. The sun began to make its decent from the sky and I began to wonder if we would make it in time to meet our baby girl before bedtime or if we would have to wait until morning…ugh another 12 hours seemed like an eternity.
When we turned into her orphanage, I was taken aback. Memories from Ki’s orphanage flooded my mind, but this was different. There were multiple buildings that were well kept and grass for the kids to play in. There were gardens of vegetables and banana trees being tended to, and then around the corner 12 little toddlers came running to greet us being lead by three “mamas.” The children were genuinely happy and healthy. It was evident that the “mamas” cared deeply for these children and they were loved.
After tons of hugs, kisses, tickles, and hand holding we were lead into the main house to meet with the head of the orphanage. This beautiful woman with kindness in her eyes took my hand and kissed my cheek and thanked me for coming. She said it was almost bedtime but she would be honored to get our daughter for a few minutes since we drove such a long way.
I sat on a chair in the entry and folded my hands in my lap to stop the shaking and I bowed my head and prayed. “God this is really it! I’m really going to meet her in a few moments, this precious child that you have chosen me to raise.” The woman opened the door and handed me the lightest bundle of baby and blanket. Baby girl reached her hand out and wrapped her tiny fingers around mine and gently touched my face with her other hand. Tears poured down my face as I just stared at her in awe. I was speechless. She was absolute perfection. Her big brown eyes searched my face and she snuggled into my chest. She placed her middle two fingers from her left hand into her mouth and started to suck them. I was startled out of this moment when the woman asked, “Would you be able to pick her out of all the other babies we have here?” My response was barely audible, “I would know her anywhere.”
Justin and Ki were by my side, but I was completely oblivious to their presence, until Justin leaned down and kissed her forehead. After a few minutes, baby girl started to yawn and rub her eyes indicating she was ready for bed. Ki gently stroked her face and sang to her “Baby Jesus” a song that he sang everyday in his orphanage. Then the woman took her from me with promises that we would see her in the morning.
My heart was full but heavy…this connection that we had as mama and baby was so strong even though I didn’t carry her for the last 9 months. Somehow she was a part of me and I was a part of her. I went to bed with a pressure on my chest, the weight of a tiny baby resting on me and I thanked my God for this journey.