The day we met our daughter
Big Papa and I exited the taxi, a bit shaken from the long, wild ride and woozy with anticipation. Oh baby, here we are!
We walked up the stairs to the second floor of the children’s home. Light streamed through the large front window, decorated with brightly colored flowers, butterflies and birds, most likely the handiwork of children who lived here. There were many green plants on the window ledge and lining the stairway and the walls were hand-painted with wonderful whimsical pictures.
After a brief conversation with, we presumed an administrator from the children’s home, our translator motioned to a door on the left side of the hallway and we followed her into the room. This is where our first meeting would take place, in the office of the children’s home doctor, Dr. M, a lovely woman with welcoming eyes and a kind smile.
Following a shake of hands and a warm, but cursory greeting, Dr. M left us alone in the tiny room, waiting with our translator. The room was spare. An old wood desk stood in one corner of the room, by the window. Atop the desk was a coffee mug with a chip on the edge. Vertical blinds parted to reveal a nearly vacant street, where we’d occasionally see women passing by on their way home from the market, on the windowsill stood a forlorn plant in a plastic bucket. Beneath the sill a radiator hissed. Someone’s beige, broken-in moccasins were tucked underneath the radiator, on the floor.
We were seated on a couch with springy cushions, a couch that had undoubtedly seen many years. It was covered by a crocheted white popcorn throw with fringe. Across from the couch was a lone lacquered burgundy chair beneath a small bookshelf filled with medical books and a few children’s toys. Beside it stood another small wood end table with a phone and a colorful crocheted tablecloth. Adjacent to the couch was a wood table that appeared to serve as an examining table. It too, had a crocheted blanket on top. And in the opposing corner to the desk, an imposing two door locker-style closet loomed, its lower two doors ajar revealing a plaid coat, the upper two doors, also open and hinged at odd kittywampus angles.
The floors were well worn, cement that had, at one time, been painted brick red; dings and scrapes adorned dingy cream-colored walls. Behind the couch a few print-outs were tacked to the wall, along with a couple posters that appeared to have information about child development.
I kept watch on the clock in one corner of the room, while Big Papa hung his head, pensively, and checked his watch, again and again. Time crawled.
Seeing your child for the first time, whether your family is formed through birth or adoption is an occasion like few others in this life. And though we’d waited years for this very moment, it was impossible to forget this wasn’t the first time we’d waited to greet a baby in Armenia. Because of that, and because of all that had transpired over the past few years, the tension in the room was palpable.
At one point, a woman poked her head into the room and spoke with our translator. Apparently there had been some confusion over which baby we were intended to meet. I felt my chest tighten and my heart pound, loudly enough for me to imagine that anyone in the room could hear it. “When,” I thought to myself.
Our translator interpreted, “Soon.”
Nearly 45 minutes passed, as we sat nervously, waiting. And then she appeared.
Carried by one of her nannies, one pint-sized baby girl appeared in the doorway. She was dressed in a pink and white striped cotton jumpsuit with a long-sleeved onesie underneath. On her head was a white cotton cap festooned with a miniature blue bow. Just the tiniest fringe of auburn hair peeked out from under her cap.
The nanny handed her to me and I held her, facing me, as we sat together on the couch and took each other in. She grinned at me and I grinned back at her. Green eyes twinkled with the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen.
I turned her around so her back was to me and held her against my chest. She felt warm and light. At five months she weighed around ten pounds, about the size of Maggie, our cat.
Then I handed her to Big Papa and they also sat, face to face, checking each other out, lips parted slightly, mirroring the expression on each other’s face. Big Papa exhaled, and so did I. “She’s pretty darn cute,” we both said, almost in unison.
We ooh’d. She drooled. We ahh’d. She sighed. And that is how the three of us spent our first minutes together, in Gyumri, Armenia, on October 11, one year ago today.9 comments