They met on an airport floor. And I really needed a shower and a toothbrush and a solid hour of sleep and a fresh pair of everything, but it was one of the best moments in my life: when my six-year-old son met his ten-and-a-half-month-old sister for the first time, on a dingy airport floor. After 24+ hours of travel from China to central Wisconsin, my husband and I were over-over exhausted, the kind that leaves you feeling nauseous and weepy, that kind that makes you lock your knees while going through airport security so you don’t crumple to the ground, but we were also ecstatic. Crazy emotional cocktail, exhaustion and elation.
It’s easy to rosy up everything when we glimpse the past, especially today as we celebrate and reminisce Gotcha Day, to recall all the wonder and beauty, but truth be told, adoption is also terribly messy. If I play out the scene on the airport floor, put it in context, here’s what else I remember. Before she met Elijah: I changed a diaper bomb in the airport bathroom and gave her another dose of amoxicillin for her ear infection. (Hours before that she spit up a dose in flight all over my sweatshirt, which proved to be a nice adhesive foundation for the powdered formula and rice flakes on which to stick when I spilled them while trying to make a bottle during turbulence.) And after that moment on the airport floor? She screamed as we tried to secure her into a car seat for the first time ever. (In China I simply clung to her for dear life as we zipped around in the cabs.) The frigid December wind blowing through the car wasn’t helping matters either, especially since she’d only ever known the clement temperatures of southern China. Poor kid.
Nobody takes pictures of those things, of throw up and runny noses and poopy diapers and red-faced when-is-she-going-to-breath-again screaming. Nobody takes pictures of the mom who stays up all night rocking a baby who refuses, refuses, to sleep unless she’s nestled on your chest. (Don’t tell me what tricks I should have tried. I tried them. They didn’t work.) This is not meant to be a woe is me tale, but these are truths of adoption, truths of parenting, and they deserve a passing flicker of the spotlight too.
But that moment on the dingy airport floor, those two minutes? Pure bliss. Pure delight. Pure thank you thank you thank you Lord for these glorious kids. Thank you thank you thank you for making all of this happen.