October 21, 2008
Me and My Girl
There are moments in one’s life that change everything. Today I had one of those extraordinary moments.
This morning my driver, Vladimir, and translator, Aliya, picked me up at 7:30 a.m. to head to Baby House 1, where I was going to meet my daughter for the very first time. It was a grey, wet day, and as the car moved through the muddy streets of Uralsk, my mind was moving in several different directions. Who was this little girl I would be meeting? Despite all the unknowns, I felt surprisingly tranquil. I think I had resigned myself to accept whatever it was that was going to happen next. I turned everything over to God, who I firmly believe always leads me to where I need to be.
Since it was so early, we actually arrived a few minutes before the director of the baby house. When she walked in the door, she joked that we should all be sleeping, as it was still quite early for business. She and another colleague then proceeded to ask me several basic questions regarding my employment, home, plans for the child, etc. It was a comfortable and quick conversation, and I was startled to discover that the baby they had chosen for me was born on April 9, 2008! This is truly significant because Kazakhstan does not allow adoptions under the age of six months, and this girl had just passed that milestone. Before I could digest this thought, one of the baby house nurses was standing in the doorway with Marzhan (her birth name), and I immediately rose to my feet. This baby was beautiful! This baby was going to be my own little girl!
I immediately went up to her, looked right into her big, brown eyes and said, “Well, hello!” She beamed in reply, and everyone in the room laughed. This little girl and I had an instant connection, and in the next moment she was in my arms.
Since I had not had a chance to hear any news about Marzhan in advance, I sat back down, baby on my left knee, and took notes about her medical history with my right hand (yes, I’m already a multi-tasking Mommy). Everything I learned confirmed what I had thought when I first saw Marzhan. She is indeed a healthy, normal baby girl. I can’t tell you how comforting it was to hear that she was a full-term baby and is progressing well. Also, she is apparently very good at eating and sleeping. Amazing – I’m great at those things, too!
After the interview, I had a few moments to spend with the baby alone, and had the opportunity to examine her more closely and take a few pictures. She grabbed my nose. She pulled on my hair. She stared into my eyes. As much as I was trying to capture her every feature, I believe she was sizing me up, too. Who is this lady with the funny words and the abundant kisses? I whispered in her ear, “It’s your Mommy, and I love you.” These are words I will repeat over and over again during the bonding period, and throughout her life. I want her to know that I’m not simply a visitor; I’ll be there for her always.
When I got back to the hotel, I sent all my medical information to my international pediatric specialist in the States. Although I felt that the baby appeared quite healthy, I wanted to get the opinion of a trained professional. I also sent the same information to my dear friend, Andrea, who is a pediatrician. I knew that their combined insights would play a significant role in my next steps. However, due to the time difference, I would have to wait for a reply.
At 4 p.m., Aliya called and requested that I provide her with several documents I had prepared for the Kaz government. Despite my organized folder, I still had a few moments of panic. Did I really have everything I needed? Fortunately, the answer was yes. These documents will now be sent to Astana, the capital, for review.
On the way to the baby home, which is about 20 minutes away from the hotel, we made a detour to the immigration building, as I had to submit my request for a new visa, as my current one will expire this month. This was a necessary step, so that I don’t have any problems when I head home.
Although I was late for my afternoon visit, I still had a nice chunk of time to share with my girl. I spent a lot of time holding her and cooing in her ear. When she started to cry for no apparent reason, I began to sing, and this seemed to quiet her down. However, by the end of the visit, I could see that she was tuckered out. She was late for her afternoon nap.
It was sad to say good-bye for the day, but I will be back tomorrow morning at 9:30. I will have a second visit at 4:30. This will be my routine for at least the next 14 days, as I go through my official bonding period.
Tonight I received word from both physicians that the baby does seem to be in good health. I should move forward full steam ahead. I immediately felt ten pounds lighter. They saw in words, what I could see with my eyes.
As I mentioned at the outset, there are moments in your life that change everything. As I reflect on a day that I will never forget, I welcome this child into my world, into my heart. I know that life will never be the same again. I thank God that this is so.