Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Heart

What? You want pictures? Well you'll have to wait to hear the details first. I know, the suspense is going to kill you but just hold tight. I can't even explain what today felt like. I can compare it to being pregnant just after my water has broke. Wondering, hoping, realizing that today is the day that I would soon hold my child who I carried for 9 months. In Susan's case, my child who is already 9 months old, who has been waiting for me and Mark to bring her home. I wondered what she would look like and how her temperament would be. I hoped that we would make an instant connection and that she would be everything I imagined and more. Just like the nights before my deliveries, I couldn't sleep. I was so tired but just couldn't rest because my mind was going 100 miles a minute. I really don't like to wish time away but I was wishing that the sun would come up sooner than later. Then finally it was 7 am, time to get up.

We got picked up at 8:45, got stuck in traffic, arrived at the orphanage by 9:30, met with our facilitator, social worker and the director of the orphanage, then met Susan. Since this whole experience really is our first rodeo, I didn't know what to expect. Remember the 99% mystery ratio? The orphanage itself was off of a busy road. It was hidden behind a little forest of trees. It was very nice and the grounds were kept. The inside was very clinical and clean. We entered an office and met the director of the orphanage. He was wearing a white coat and was very friendly and professional. At first we all sat around a table in the director's office while he sat at his desk. He immediately started to read her file, telling us of her details while our facilitator translated them. Much of it was what we had already learned during our referral appointment but a lot of it was new information. What struck me the most and really pricked my heart is that her parents really did love her! They wanted her! This was their second pregnancy and the mother was healthy and really took care of herself. No cigarettes, drugs or alcohol, she ate well, etc. She did everything right because this baby who was growing inside of her was planned and wanted. It was only after she was born and when it was confirmed that she had Down syndrome that they decided to not take her home. Susan stayed in the hospital for 7 days then was transferred to the orphanage. On day 4 her parents terminated their parental rights and never looked back. She was never visited by them again. Both mom and dad received a higher education and came from good, stable families. They simply had to let go because it is not "acceptable" to raise a child with Down syndrome in their culture. A little piece of my heart broke today! It broke for Susan's mom who had to make an awful decision. It broke because we were told that her mom suffered depression afterward because it was such a hard decision to make. It broke for a family who didn't bring their baby girl home because she wasn't "normal". Normal is such a silly word because is there even such a thing? Maybe Down syndrome is the new "normal".  Anyway I wish I could wrap my arms around her mother and let her know that I will love her daughter with all my heart and being and that she will be OK. Again, I like to think that maybe her mom already knows this because it was part of the plan after all. I like to think that her mother and I were friends in heaven and that I promised to be her daughter's keeper.

As we were sitting in the office I really didn't know when we would see Susan. I just assumed that we would meet her after we had finished in the director's office, then perhaps enter another room to see her. But all of the sudden one of her caregivers walked in holding her then sat down on a sofa in the corner of the room. Susan was wearing the typical orphanage bonnet and was in a striped sleeper. She looked a lot different than any of the pictures that we had seen of her. In fact I thought for one second that they had brought in the wrong baby. That was until I lifted her bonnet and looked at her left ear. She has a distinct little fold on it and once I saw that I knew it was Susan. I knelt down to look at her and smiled and she gave me the cheesiest smile back. Her whole face crinkled! Her tongue was sticking out and was almost wagging with excitement. She was adorable! It looks like we have another little one who will need glasses or eye surgery because her eyes were wandering too. To be honest maybe that is why I didn't recognize her because in all the pictures we have seen of her, her eyes appeared straight. Regardless she is so cute and her eyes still sparkle! She just may have a chance to rock some really cute, pink spectacles. She is a really good snuggler! I just held her tight and whispered everything I've been longing to say. It was a very tender moment and the love that I had already felt for her was multiplied ten fold. She kept slapping my hand, arm, and face with her hand. Oh her hands! They are so cute, chubby, like little sausages! She also loved tugging at my hair and putting it in her mouth. She has a very sweet disposition! Her caregiver said that she is a good eater, sleeper and is a quiet baby. All of my wonders and hopes were met in our first 10 minute meeting. She is simply perfect! Although my heart broke today, it also grew because after months of waiting, I was finally able to meet and hold my baby girl. "My heart breaks, my heart heals. My heart loves, my heart feels. With every child it grows a little more because that is what my heart is for."

This is the photo you're waiting for right? The anxious Mama one? Alright, alright, they're coming in a seperate post.  

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