January 13, 2008….My husband Erik’s 37th birthday… had all of the ingredients to be a miserable one.
It had snowed the night before in Xian, China. The snow had created a slate colored slush that covered the roads to match the gloomy sky above. The wind was so fierce no one was looking up while they were trudging through the sloppy snow.
The power had gone out in the civil affairs building. The small room we were in was lit by generator light and had no heat.
We were in a foreign country, not too many people spoke English. We were exhausted.
It could have been a miserable way to spend a birthday.
But it wasn’t.
Erik and I sat on hard plastic chairs holding hands, gently squeezing each other’s every so often.
I made small talk with the woman sitting next to me.
Erik sat in silence.
We all kept checking the door, willing it to open.
Erik saw her first.
I felt his body stiffen, stopped my small talk and turned my eyes to the door.
“That’s her isn’t it?” I whispered.
Erik’s eyes welled up as he nodded, unable to speak.
She walked in the door holding her nanny’s hand, the biggest grin across her face.
I remember those cheeks.
Bright red shiny candy apple cheeks overpowering a smile that could change the world.
We stood up. Met her halfway.
I knelt down, looked into her eyes and said “Ni Hao.”
She looked at me, almond eyes piercing through me, that smile slowly fading.
She looked at her Nanny and promptly threw herself on the ground screaming at the top of her lungs.
I smiled, looked up at Erik and said “That’s our girl!”
Four years have passed since that day and she’s changed so much.
However, what hasn’t changed is her spirit, her laughter, her loving soul and her strong sense of self.
I believe in adoption.
I believe miracles.
I believe she was born on the other side of the world to be our daughter.
I believe in falling in love with a photograph of a child.
I believe that adoption is one of the cores of my soul.