A Guatemalan adoption story and thoughts about a birth mother
A Guatemalan Adoption Story
I’m not exactly sure where our Guatemalan adoption story started…one could say it began across the continent, in the beautiful country of Guatemala with a woman named Ana, who made the choice to give the child she brought into this world a chance in life that she would never be able to give her…. Or, maybe it started with a family of six from Indiana who sat in church one Sunday morning and felt the overwhelming prompting from the Lord to add to their family through international adoption. But, however it first began, it happened because two women, with two different lives, both loved a child and wanted her to have the best chance through international adoption.
Although I was not present the day Aleigha was born, my love was already with her and had been with her for the two years we had been praying daily for the child that God had planned for our family. I didn’t know who she was or even where she would be born, but I knew in my heart that there was a child out there that was meant to be ours and that in the Lord’s perfect timing she would join our family through adoption.
Aleigha was born in December, 2003. We got the call from our agency about two weeks after she was born saying that they had a baby girl from Guatemala- would we be interested? I cannot explain the emotions that I experienced in that one phone call. What would it be like to have someone hand me a child and tell me that somehow, in some miraculous way, I would be the one blessed with the privilege of loving her and calling her my own? That I would be the one she would look to when she was uncertain or cling to when she was afraid. I would get to tuck her in each night, listen to her prayers and give her good-night kisses. And, that far away there was a woman with a broken heart, selflessly, courageously, giving me all that she would never have. I hate thinking of Ana’s loss as my gain. I want to think of it as two woman being willing to give the child that they both love the best chance in life. I want to think of it as Aleigha having two of the best kinds of love that together make her complete.
After many days and nights of prayer and the unending heartache of waiting to hold our daughter for the first time, my husband and I were told we could travel to Guatemala to bring our baby girl home. I will never, ever forget the first moment I laid eyes on her. I remember how the elevator ride felt like it took an eternity to go up two floors. How the hallway smelled like oranges. How I knew that once I opened the door to that hotel room my life would be changed forever, I just had no idea to what extent.
As I entered the room I could hear Aleigha crying. I dropped everything in my hands and literally ran to pick her up. I looked into those big, round black eyes and without a doubt in my mind, on that day- July 11, 2004- I knew I had seen a glimpse of heaven.
Aleigha stopped crying and as I held her, we sat there for what seemed like an eternity…gazing into each others eyes, just her and me, finally together at last. I dreamed of the life we would have together and felt the pain of waiting for so long to have her in my arms slowly disappear. I have no idea what anyone said or did around me for the next few hours… all I knew was that I finally felt whole looking into the eyes of a precious baby girl we were adopting from Guatemala who needed me as much as I needed her.
The trip home was like a dream. I felt like I was floating on a cloud. I know that they sometimes warn people that they might not ‘bond’ right away, but that was not the case with us. We definitely bonded. Once back in the states we received many warm welcomes and awaiting us was a host of loved ones waving American flags as we walked off the plane. Aleigha was surrounded by an amazing amount of love and acceptance and swept into the arms of her three brothers and sister who had waited and prayed right along side their parents throughout the whole adoption process.
Our lives have been so richly blessed since Aleigha came home. Our entire family has been given such joy in watching each precious phase she goes through and receiving the unconditional love that she shares with each one of us daily. At her young age she still has no idea how the love from two different women brought her to where she is today. All she knows now is that she is safe and cherished the way every child deserves to be.
I often wonder what would have been if both Ana and I hadn’t stepped out in faith. How Aleigha’s life would have been so different. I still think of Ana often, mostly when I have one of those ‘catches in my heart’ while watching Aleigha enjoy ice cream for the first time, or hearing her call “mama!”. Once again I am reminded that I am living all that Ana is missing out on. My hope is that she would be happy with the way I am raising Aleigha and like the choices I am making for her life. I wish she could know how much I respect her, but most of all, I hope that she has peace.