In an effort to share some of our adoption story here, I've decided to write a handful of posts dedicated to our time in Uganda and our first few weeks with Zara. These are stories that have been etched so deeply into my heart and I look forward to the day that I can recount them with Zara. There is no possible way to fully capture the whirlwind of emotion and the depth of love that we experienced during our time in Uganda, but I'm going to give it the ol' college try...
Wednesday October 30, 2013
I will never forget my first car ride to Aggies Baby Home. I could hear my heart pounding. I nervously tapped my foot in the backseat of the van. Lance and our driver, Patrick, were talking about something in the front seat, but for the life of me, I couldn't tell you about what. We were going to meet our daughter today. Our sweet baby girl.
It was really happening. Finally.
The car ride took about 45 minutes, but felt more like hours. I remember pulling into the orphanage... Lance reached back to squeeze my ankle in the backseat. We were immediately greeted by one of the orphanage caregivers and 2 children. Lance was showing Patrick how to work the video on his phone, when all of a sudden, there she was.
I immediately forgot about the video instructions and reached for Lance's hand as I took her in. There was our sweet baby girl. She hugged the wall as she wobbled down the hallway. She had that same serious, wise expression in her eyes that was so familiar from all of her photos. She was dressed in a little black, white, and orange jumper that was faded and too big for her tiny frame. She was so much smaller than I expected her to be... a baby... my baby.
The caregiver scooped her up and handed her to me... she didn't flinch. As my eyes welled up with tears, she simply studied me... she kept that serious expression and just took me in. One of the caregivers wanted to give us a tour of the house, but I couldn't move. I wanted to freeze time. I wanted to memorize everything about this moment.
We had brought a little binkie stuffed animal to give her... we actually brought two. We were told to have something we could give her in those first moments that we met her... but we were also told to have something we could leave with her when we left... something she could cling to when we would go back to the states before bringing her home. That was no longer an option. The moment we laid eyes on her, we knew that we could not leave Uganda without her.
We eventually took our tour of the orphanage... but I was in my own world... memorizing every feature of my daughter's face, taking in her smell, feeling her soft tiny curls on my cheek, holding her small hands in mine. Lance took her hand and gently placed it on his beard... she didn't pull away... she studied it... studied him with her little fingers. I held her practically the entire time we were there. I couldn't bear to put her down.
I remember watching her in awe as she sat on the floor and drank an entire cup of milk in one sitting, never once letting the cup leave her lips. She cried when it was gone... then stopped when I picked her up. It was as if she knew already. As if she knew how much I loved her... how much my heart ached for her... how much my arms longed to hold her.
That car ride back to the hotel was so different than the car ride there... instead of tapping my foot, I was rubbing her back... instead of hearing my own heart pounding, I only heard the soft, steady breathing of my baby girl... instead of anxiousness, I felt peace. True peace. The kind of peace that comes from that beautiful moment when you get a glimpse into His plan...
...and you finally see that it was absolutely perfect all along.