December 5, 2008
There’s No Place Like Home
Emilia and I have been home for a little more than a week, and we couldn’t be happier! Although I will always have many wonderful memories of our time in Kazakhstan, it is absolutely true that there is no place like home.
Our journey to New York began at 1:30 in the morning and took more than 24 hours to complete. Neither Em nor I slept very much on our flights – Em, always true to her character, had to observe everything around her – so we were both exhausted when we touched down at JFK. At the same time, I was elated; we were finally in New York, and Em was now a U.S. citizen. Our life together in the States was just beginning!
My Mom and Dad greeted us with open arms at the airport. Their baby girl was finally home with her own baby girl. It warmed my heart to see my parents with Emilia. Not surprisingly, they were as taken with Em as I was that first time I saw her (and, admittedly, still am).
As we approached the main drive to my community, I noticed that there were pink and white balloons floating at the entrance and commented that someone must have had a baby girl. Then when we got to my street, there were more balloons. “Do you think they’re for you?” my Mom asked. I didn’t think so, but sure enough they were. When I pulled up to my new house (I moved in six days before my departure to Kaz!), I saw a large bunch of beautiful balloons swaying in the wind. Our neighbor, Janice, had thoughtfully hung them at the entrance to our home, announcing to all that the newest member of our cul-de-sac had at last arrived.
Our first full day at home was Thanksgiving, and it was a joy to wake up in my own bed knowing that Emilia was safely and snuggly tucked into her crib down the hall. It was also wonderful to see my family on Thanksgiving and over the weekend. I had missed them very much, and I couldn’t wait to introduce them to Emilia and for her to greet her new family. As I offered grace before our meal, I couldn’t help but thank God for his abundant blessings this holiday season. Emilia and I have so much for which to be thankful.
Each day I wake up and rejoice in the fact that I’m a Mom…even when it’s 5 a.m. and Em is howling for a bottle (I previously thought 5 o’clock only came once a day). Although Emilia and I spent many hours together in Kazakhstan, our time at home is quite different. It is much more enjoyable to care for a child when you are surrounded by your loved ones and the conveniences and comforts of home. Also, it is much better for Emilia, who has been through so many changes in the past few months. Now she wakes up in the same sunny bedroom surrounded by her stuffed animals and toys and is scooped up into her Mommy’s loving arms.
I am working hard to establish a routine for Em, which will make her feel secure and safe. America is her great new world, but it’s one she must come to know slowly and with sensitivity, not with a big bang.
Although Em and I have only been home a short time, I feel our bond is getting even stronger. When I watch her reaching for a toy, splashing in the tub, rolling across the carpet, or sleeping under her pretty pink blanket, I am awed that this little girl is mine and I am hers. I never tire of breathing her in, brushing her rosy cheeks with my fingers and whispering that I love her.
And I’m not alone in showing my affection. Emilia reaches out for me, curls her head into my neck and pats me on the back, as if to say, “Mom, I love you, too.” It’s during these poignant moments – these times when Em stares into my eyes and reaches for my face with exploring, yet knowing fingers – that my heart overflows with happiness and love.
As I’ve mentioned in past entries, my path to finding Emilia was not always smooth. As a matter of fact, I hit several bumps along the way, and sometimes felt it hard to recover from the bruises and hurts I experienced before landing at Baby House #1 in October. And yet, I feel these challenges made me stronger and even more prepared for bringing Emilia home. Also, I believe that God was leading me to Emilia in His time because it was what was best for both of us.
So many prayers have been uttered by so many people around the world for Emilia and me, and I truly believe that these prayers have brought about a miracle. Emilia and I thank all of you who have followed our story and generously shared your insights, offered support and sent your best wishes. Each of you has played an important role in our journey and are now part of our happy memories. You truly have touched our hearts, and we pray that you, too, find your joy whatever it may be.
Emilia is sleeping now, and I wonder if she is dreaming of beautiful things. I will be going to sleep soon myself, but I don’t need to shut my eyes to know that my dream has already come true. It has. She’s named Emilia Jeanne.