Knowing it would take about an hour for the email to reach us, we tried to distract ourselves by catching up on each other’s day. Admittedly, neither of us can recall what the other had to say. Our minds were racing and reeling with all of the information we just received. Some of it pleasantly surprising, hopeful, and as reassuring as it could be given our child is in someone else’s care. And some of it expectedly tough, heartbreaking, and scary for the exact same reason.
We sat there tightly clinging to one another around the computer, separating only to compulsively hit the “refresh” button. We were nervous, excited, and eager, but somehow calm at the same time. After hearing about her on the call, we knew she would be our daughter and we her parents. But the anticipation of seeing the sweet face belonging to the child we already love so dearly – sight unseen – was palpable.
Then there it was – the email from Holt containing everything known to date about our daughter. We took another couple of deep breaths together and then clicked the email. There were a few attachments and since we knew the photo was in the file written entirely in Chinese, that’s the one we chose to open first. After scrolling through a couple pages of beautifully intricate characters (and Kevin endearingly trying to pronounce her name as if it were Spanish), there she was. Our little lotus! A tiny 1 x 1.5 inch headshot of the most precious baby girl we had ever seen. She had the gentlest little smirk on her face that almost seemed to say to us “I choose you too”.
We both instantly burst into tears, and I simultaneously into laughter. I was absolutely overwhelmed with a joy so immense it caused both reactions.
Nothing could have properly prepared us for that moment. It is truly a unique experience seeing your child like this for the first time. There’s no easing in with a swollen little newborn face that has not yet fully revealed its features. She’s a toddler and there is already so much life and experience in her eyes, and expression on her face. We couldn’t take our eyes off her. We studied that little face, scanning it for any clue about her personality and demeanor.
We kept scrolling through the file, written in a language we have yet to understand. And then there were more photos! FOUR more photos! And these were full color, head-to-toe, 4 x 6 inch shots of her in action. We now gratefully have five pictures of our daughter to help piece together her story with her. We know we are lucky to have these. But the most recent one shows her already on hands and knees ready to crawl. This – like so much else about adoption – is bittersweet.
We shot a private video of the referral phone call and of the moment we opened her file. Honestly, we did so mostly because we knew a few details would be sacrificed to our nerves, and we want to have every answer possible for her when she one day asks. We look forward to sharing this full video with her when the time is right. There is absolutely no mistaking our authentic love for her when watching our reaction – it was even strange to play it back for ourselves. I have known Kevin for 20 years, and myself for an obvious lifetime. I have never seen us like this: our tears, our body language, our eyes, the moments during the call with Beth that nearly brought us to our knees. “It’s a good orphanage” she said, and we both melted.