A little over a month ago, Big Papa, Baby Bird and I took a trip to the east coast to visit our families. One of the highlights of our trip was a rendezvous with two of Baby Bird’s “sisters” from the children’s home in Gyumri, Armenia where she lived for the first year of her life. Both moms drove with their daughters, for nearly five hours, to meet up with us in Pittsburgh and share a bit of time together.
I have been email pals with these girls’ moms for almost four years, our exchanges so frequent and intimate I count them as good friends. They are amongst a small cadre of adoptive moms who have remained by my virtual side from the beginning. If things had gone as planned, the three of us would have become parents around the same time. For Big Papa and me, things didn’t go as planned. During the dark days of our adoption journey, these moms listened to me, consoled me and rooted for me, until—finally—I became a mama too.
Amazingly, one of the two moms grew up in the Seattle area and, in a twist of unbelievable serendipity, she was in Armenia to register her daughter’s adoption at the very same time I was in Armenia to register an adoption that ultimately fell through. We sat side-by-side in the Ministry of Justice office, tears running down our faces, as we formally expressed our intent to adopt. A few days later, during that same trip, we toasted with Armenian brandy and enjoyed an unforgettable meal at a restaurant in Yerevan.
Months passed. She became a mom. I didn’t.
But here’s the irony and the beauty of this story. If things had gone as planned, Baby Bird would not be my daughter, I would not be the mother of a girl from Gyumri, and the three of us would not share this additional–and somewhat unusual–bond.
Gyumri holds a special place in my heart. The brown barren hills and mountains that surround the ancient city remind me of the landscapes in the eastern part of the state where I live. I admire the tenacity of the people who call this rugged land home, and I see this same trait in my daughter.
We tell Baby Bird her story over and over, and show her pictures: pictures that describe where she was born, the people who cared for her, and what the country of her birth is like. But it will be years before she truly understands. And while I show her pictures of her Gyumri sisters, even more years may pass before she fully comprehends that three girls–who spent their first year in a children’s home half way around the world –laughed and ran and played together in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
For me, the hours spent in each other’s company passed much too quickly. I’m sure there will be opportunities for us to meet again in the years ahead, and I look forward to those times because I hope that, one day, our girls might feel inspired to forge their own friendship…just like their mamas did. No matter where they may travel in life, and no matter who they become, our three girls were Gyumri girls first and will always carry a bit of Gyumri with them.