The first picture I ever saw of my girls.
A recent post on BlogHer inspired me to write about meeting my daughters for the first time.
I remember Meg being put in my arms shortly after giving birth to her. I said “I know you now. I know you now.” I was in awe that I was finally seeing my daughter face to face after carrying her for those many months. I didn’t even know if she was a boy or a girl, I just knew I loved her and that she would be perfect and that I would be the perfect mom. I had such high expectations for us. Well, after twelve years neither of us have proved to be perfect, but I really know her now. Every freckle, every scar, every pre-teen look she gives me. I know who she is.
It was pretty much the same when Elle was born. Though I knew she was a girl and I knew neither of us would be perfect. I felt enormous love and thanksgiving when she was born. I was an experienced parent who knew that it would go fast and that we would make it through just fine. My expectations weren’t as high, I just wanted to enjoy her.
I first saw Mita and Enu’s pictures in January 2008. I was so overjoyed to have a referral. I was so happy to see their faces. I was so ready to put the love I already felt to two little faces. I got to read school reports and health reports. I had put personalities to them just by their pictures. I bought them clothes and dreamed about meeting them.
Then we were there. The director took us to their classroom and brought them out to us. They were so small, so scared but happy. I now know they were happy because they had been told this was a happy thing. They really didn’t have a clue what was going on, the concept was just to big. Mita has told me when they were introduced to us as mom and dad she thought they had painted her Ethiopian dad peach!
The hugged us, held my hand, showed us the bunk they shared and their personal belongings. Enu handed me something that I will be forever grateful for. She handed me family pictures. Baby pictures, pictures of them growing up with their mom, dad and grandparents. This album has allowed me to talk about what they looked like as a baby, it has let them see how loved they were by their parents. It is a true miracle that many international adoptees don’t have.
So there I was hugging two little girls who were strangers to me, but not. I felt relief, happiness and a bit of now what? They knew very little English, I knew even less Amharic and yet we were a family. They looked at me, I looked at them. We were in a bit of limbo at that time I now realize.
One of the things that sticks out in my mind most is that Mita was sucking on the seatbelt buckle in the taxi. I was so grossed out, but didn’t want one of my first actions to be a correction. So I let her suck it (not wear it mind you!). I would have never let Meg or Elle have done that, but I knew them. I still didn’t know Mita. This is not a bad thing to admit. Adoption is different from giving birth, adopting older kids is way different from giving birth. They had an entire six and eight years of life that I didn’t experience with them.
Much like the birth of Meg, I had a lot of expectations for Mita and Enu, but I had learned that expectations can change and that can be a good thing. Much like with the birth of Elle I was ready to live in the moment.
What is different is that I don’t know where every scar has come from. I don’t know when their first steps were taken or when they started getting teeth. I have no idea what the birth stats are or even the correct date of birth. This things don’t really sadden me as an adoptive mom as I know that their Ethiopian mom and dad got to see these moments and from the pictures, I know they enjoyed these moments. What does make me sad is that if the girls decide to have kids of their own, we won’t be able to compare when things happened.
After three and a half years, I can say that I know my girls. I just don’t know everything. I never will.
These last seven hundred words cannot give you a great picture of what happened during that day visually, but it does show what was going through my mind. As this is NoPloPoMo and I am to stretch my writing, I am going to attempt to write this post again, but make it more about the actual meeting. We will see how that goes!