I can still see the three of them walking down the corridor of Lambert International Airport. Scott had Alia in the Baby Bjorn with his mom walking next to them. After spending a month in Kazakhstan and taking three flights to get home, they both looked thinner and tired, but were smiling. It seemed like it took them an eternity to get to us. When they did, Scott stooped down for Luca to finally see and meet Alia. Luca said something wonderful and perfect, but I don’t remember what it was. I was filming them, but later found out the camera was not recording. Scott handed Alia to me and she promptly fell asleep. She slept in the car as we drove two hours home through the night and continued to sleep until the next morning when she woke up and we all climbed into our bed together.
Alia was finally home.
I wore my red beaded Mary Janes for the occasion because, for some reason I felt like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. It was the end of a journey in so many ways, but it was also the beginning of one. My subconscious rightly told me that I would encounter dark places with cackling green witches and flying monkeys on this new journey, but I would also have the help of friends who began as strangers along the way. And, it did get dark. Part of it was the post-adoption let-down . . . all the decisions, the paperwork, the waiting, the planning, the anticipation, the travel, the uncertainty, the excitement. And, then, screech, it is done. Another part was the transition from one child to two. And, the realities of taking care of a baby again. How soon one forgets the responsibilities! Is she eating? Is she eating the right things? And, the napping? Is the napping going okay? Is she getting enough mental stimulation? Is she socializing enough? Is she OKAY? But, this stuff . . . this stuff is dark “lite.”
What caused me so much anxiety and shame was the bonding and attachment process. Before Alia came home, I read and heard these words so often . . . in discussion groups, on blogs, in books, from the social worker. They seemed so abstract and I often thought, “What do these words really mean?” I have come to believe that they are adoption code words for learning to love and care deeply for each other. In all honesty, I wish people would use “love” instead of bonding and attachment. I know it would sound strange if someone asked an adoptive parent “how is the loving going?”, but it is so much more to the point that way.
Another significant word here is “process.” As a person, I am impatient with that word and believe I don’t need a “process” for anything. The irony is this belief is so much the opposite of what I actually need to accomplish anything. It takes me forever to do things . . . forever. So, I am all about process, but at the same time believe it is a weakness somehow.
So how did the learning to love and care deeply process go with Alia? S-L-O-W-L-Y. And, that was no reflection on her. I want to be clear about this. This is my fear about writing this . . . is that anyone reading this would think that there was something wrong with her, that I didn’t want her. This is not the case . . . in no uncertain terms, this is not the case.
The “slowly” part was tortuous for me. I hammered at myself mentally for months. I fretted. I was angry. I am the first one to tell someone else to go easy on herself - to forget about trying to attain unattainable perfection - but, I have difficulty letting up on myself. I wondered if we would ever see each other as mother and daughter. Oh my god. What if we never do?! was one of the refrains in my busy little mind.
Well, we have . . . we do. It took a lot more than clicking the heels of the red beaded shoes. Quite frankly, it took time most of all. The day in and day out living together, being there was the foundation to the strong relationship I have with my daughter today. It also took support from the most amazing friends (my own army of Tin Men, Lions and Scarecrows) I have in the adoption community who were kind enough to share their own experiences through blogs, emails and real life conversations as well Scott and Luca and the promise of a complete, loving and peaceful family.
When I come home from work or somewhere else, Alia runs to me, then to Scott excitedly saying, "Guy Guy - it's Mom. It's Mom Mom. It's Mommy!"
Yes, it is Alia . . . yes it is.
Here ends this blog . . . we are living happily ever after. Alia has been sought. What next? Seeking a nicely renovated mid-century home? Seeking the Buddha? Stay tuned. Thanks to every one of you who has read, commented and provided other invaluable moral support on this journey in particular and the general life one as well. As Susan Serra would say, "You ROCK!"