We made this trip for moments like this one. Granny reacts to battery-operated, noise-activated chickens. It's blurry, but this photo somehow sums up everything I love about my Granny.
I was not online for most of this trip but on Tuesday night right before going to dinner with my grandmother and dad, I checked my email and saw that our caseworker had written, asking to "visit with" us at 10am the next morning. She ended the whole thing with two exclamation marks and a smiley face. Oh boy. I was stunned. I immediately called Ted who picked up by saying, "I just got the email too."
After dinner, I went to visit a high school friend to see her and her new house and then my sister met me at our dad's with a big bottle of wine. I am so glad she came. I was jittery and not sure if I'd be able to sleep. We sat up talking with the soothing sound of a Southpark episode on the tv in the background. I somehow fell asleep.
My dad had taken Wednesday off, so he'd said I could use his office for the big phone call. On our way there, we stopped by a drive-thru coffee place where the lady working greeted us with a loud "howdy!" My dad is a regular. I got an overly-sweet pumpkin latte and an overly-sweet bran muffin, both of which I attempted to eat. I got settled in at my dad's office and couldn't get online. Their intranet kept kicking me offline when I attempted to access my email. I think I may have yelled once or twice. Maybe. Probably.
We hopped back into Daddy's truck and drove to my mom's office across town. On the way, our caseworker called, and we put the call off for ten minutes. I got all settled in this time at my mom's desk, and our caseworker conferenced our call with Ted in Oregon. Let me tell you: I don't recommend getting your referral phone call while not in the same location. We didn't really have another option besides waiting two days until I got home on Friday. That wasn't an option, obviously.
There is nothing like that moment when you hear your caseworker say, "Okay, I'm pressing "send" and then waiting waiting waiting, refreshing, refreshing, refreshing your inbox until BAM: there it is.
You see the subject line "Introducing...." and your heart starts pounding. The reality hits you that you are about to see your child's face for the first time. There is nothing like it. I was hunkered over the computer screen, unaware of what my mom and dad were doing. I knew they were in the room but that's about it. I had my phone on speaker so they could hear the initial part of the conversation. I opened the email and saw ten tiny photos of a little girl. I couldn't decide which to click on first, so I just chose the one that showed her face in close-up.
Scanning for viruses... seemed to take forever. Then.
Her face. Huge perfectly almond shaped eyes. A slight smile. Chapped bottom lip. Head cocked a little to one side. Ears that stick out (so do Ted's, may be the one way she looks like us). I opened the other photos. In one she is sitting on the floor playing with a doll. In another she is standing in a yard in a pink plaid shirt with her neck all stretched out, as if she was in mid jump. In my favorite photo, her chin is tucked in and she's looking up at the camera, a little ruffly hat on her head. In every photo, she looks angelic. I'm sure she's not. I mean, I'm sure she's a real little girl who has tantrums and fits and bouts of sadness. But in these photos, she is pure sweetness.
I wasn't sure how I would react upon first seeing her face. With Abe, I immediately burst into tears. The same was true with her. There is nothing like this moment (have I said that before?). You are looking at a face belonging to a stranger on the other side of the globe, a stranger who will become your daughter, your son's sister. It hits you right in the gut. Well, in the heart, I suppose. There is no way around it.
We listened to her story and read through all her documents and at the end, we both said with no hesitation, "Yes." And that was that.
(more later on the rest of this day and what it was like to tell Abe)