My heart beat rapidly in my chest as I opened the email from our adoption coordinator. In just hours, I would be boarding a plane with my husband and two boys to fly to Haiti. The message included a picture of our daughter. Baby Girl – Christine T. three months old, no birth weight, no time of arrival.
I clicked the file and her picture filled my screen. I sat and studied her face and features. In eight hours, she would be in my arms. She already had a name, she had a biological mother who did all she could, she had skin that did not match mine, she now had a new family, something she didn’t yet understand. My anticipation of her had begun. This birthing process would be different then my four natural births.
Upon arrival, a nanny presented her to me. She was in a blue lace dress. I put my arms out as the nanny passed this baby, now my baby, too me. I studied her little face through my tears of awe. I combed my fingers through her curly black hair. She was breathtaking. I kissed her, and realized she didn’t smell like me. My heart became worried, would I be able to love her like she deserved? I was flooded with fear, elation, and more questions than I had answers for. I had never been here before.
For five days I fed, rocked, bathed and tended to Christine. We were in the initial stages of our adoption process, she wouldn’t come with us when we left. My motherly instincts wanted to give the nannies a list of what I had learned about her. How she liked to be wrapped when going to sleep and how many ounces she ate at a time. Language was a barrier, so in silence I extended my arms to hand my baby back. They pointed to her crib, which looked like a mini cage.
“But she needs to be held and comforted right now,” I thought, as I obliged. I opened the door to her crib and we both began to cry as I placed her inside. I felt like I would disintegrate right there. My husband and I met in the hallway, both sobbing uncontrollably as we walked silently to the car that would take us to the airport. I had just done something I never thought I could do.
Two and a half years later, after several more visits we returned to get her. She is two years old and walking. As I walk through the doors she is once again handed to me. I am a white-faced stranger in a sea of black faces. Does she remember me? Does she know I am her mom? I pull her little malnourished body to mine. My mind struggles to take in all that is happening. I don’t think hers can either. Today, I am officially her mom and she is my daughter.
She was held in the womb of my heart where I carried the dream of her for years and here we are about to embark on a life-long journey together.
Instead of a baby, I transported a two-year old home from the “hospital”. I wouldn’t be swaddling her to help her feel secure, I wouldn’t be waiting for her belly button to “fall off”, or pulling her to my breast to nurse. I was too overwhelmed to grieve any of that. Instead, I brought home a baby girl whose eyes were gripped with terror. Her story already contained abandonment, neglect, and institutional trauma. I wondered if she sensed the mounting anxiety that gnawed inside of me.
The first months home were beyond trying. She cried blood curdling screams while I tried to remain calm, which I often failed. She refused everything but a few choice food items and never wanted me to put her down. I didn’t understand trauma then like I do now.
In those two years of waiting I started my own healing journey. Seeing the fear in her eyes was like staring in a mirror to see the terror of my own heart. Her deep need for a mother catapulted me to the longings of so desperately wanting to be mothered. My own story of trauma was suctioned to the surface. Those two years of waiting for Christine saved me.
Together we have learned a lot.
Today, eight years later, I look at the same sweet little girl, the baby with only a name that found her way in my heart, and I see a spirit that is awake. I see courage and a strength that is stunning and I feel a deep love I never would have imagined could be birthed.
Megan thrives alongside her husband of 15 years in Colorado. She is the mother of six children. While walking faithfully with friends, Megan co-hosts a marriage conference, a Christmas show, and a songwriter’s retreat. She loves Hot Tamales and Essential oils. She is a natural gatherer and organizer. You’ll find her listening to audio books while doing laundry and Costco runs.