Liam and I arrived at the Durame Care Center along with another couple who also had a baby, a 5-month-old girl, waiting for them at the same orphanage. If you like to read more about Brian and Heather, you can access their blog here.
Liam and I standing outside Durame Care Center
I have to tell you, I was a basket case of nerves. I was practically jumping out of my skin with excitement, but I was also more than a little anxious about how he would receive us. I was so nervous that he wouldn't like us. I was expecting tears and even a complete meltdown, afterall we're complete strangers to him. He doesn't know that we've been staring at his picture for the last 5 months dreaming of the moment when we would finally be able to hold him, or that we've spent countless hours decorating his nursery in anticipation of his arrival home, or that I've written every minor detail about his adoption in his baby book in preparation for the questions he may have as he grows. He has no idea how much we have longed for him, and prayed for him, and loved him for the very start. So, as much as I didn't want it to be, I was trying to keep my expectations in check for the very real possibility that he would not be as happy about our first meeting as we were.
When we first entered the main room (right on the other side of the doors in the above picture) we were ushered to take a seat in one of the 3 or 4 chairs provided. I didn't even see until I was close to sitting down, that there were two babies lying in the middle of the floor. I didn't know if we were expected to approach them or if the nurses would gather them for us. I didn't really even now if they were ours- silly, right? Why else would they be there?
As all four of us gathered around them and began to study their cute little faces, the unmistakable features of the face that I have studied for the past 5 months jumped out at me and I started crying and laughing all at once. One of the nurses behind us asked if we knew which one was our son, and through my tears, I nodded and pointed to Aidan. She congratulated me on knowing which was ours (as if there was any doubt).
It wasn't until a later conversation with Heather when she told me that she had been happy that I picked out Aidan first. I didn't even realize that he was wearing pink (AGAIN) and therefore was hard to determine his gender.
When the nurse put him in my arms, we locked eyes and he did what I had been praying he would. He smiled and laughed, and all of my anxiety fell away. He was our son, and we were his parents. If I doubted for an instant the bond between an adopted child and parent, it was gone in that instant. In that one second, I loved him more than I ever dreamed possible, and that my love for him was as unconditional as any parent's for their child. Liam will not want me to divulge his reaction (because anytime that I mention tears and Liam's name together, he orders me to delete it from my post...given the numerous times that I have mentioned this, you can see how successful his demands have been :) ), but there were definitely tears flowing from both of us.
I handed him to Liam (for about 20 seconds, sorry honey) and marveled at the first sight of my husband holding OUR child...something that I have prayed to see since before our long, and difficult nearly 5 year battle with infertility, a battle that I thought may actually rob me of ever seeing my spouse cradle our child in his arms. Words can never express the joy that that one moment brought.
We posed for some pictures, but I quickly grew frustrated with this. I didn't want to waste any of the precious time that we were given. Liam did take out the video camera and I settled myself on the floor and faced Aidan towards me, so that I could study his little face. He's amazing and breathtaking and gorgeous. In some respects, he looks like the pictures that we have received of him, but they're only a pale version of his actual beauty. I kissed his sweet little lips and he just stared at me, as if to say who is this crazy woman who thinks that she knows me. He smiled again. Let me tell you, that smile will melt you heart!
As I was showing one of the nurses the family photo album that I made for him, he settled in close to me and yawned great big. Someone handed me a bottle and I got to feed my son for the first time. In a moment or two, he was asleep. I looked down at this sleeping child in my arms and knew that I would never experience a moment greater than that one. Aidan was finally in my arms!
You may be wondering what my lovely husband was doing during this time. Liam was the epitamy of a dutiful hubby. He managed to operate four different cameras (digital, cell phone, camcorder and polaroid for pics to give his birth mom) and took tons of great pictures. He never complained once. The man has the patience of Job!
The nurses took us on a tour around the care center to see the rooms and the other babies. Each baby was cuter than the last (with Aidan, of course, being the cutest). We were amazed that none of the babies were crying. They just stared at us with curiousity. A few of the friendlier ones, smiled as we approached. It was a sealed deal between Liam and I that Aidan would definitely NOT be our last adoption from this beautiful country.
The one thing that surprised me the most about Aidan was how big his is! The last update that we received was in December and we weighed a little less than 12 pounds. That is not who greeted us on our trip. Aidan's latest update (done in February) states his weight as being close to 17 pounds. My arms grew tired from holding our sleeping little boy, and I passed him off to Liam. This time for about 2 minutes.
All too soon, our time with Aidan was up. I managed to shift him upright in my arms, waking him up. We kissed him and told him that we would be back soon. I spent the next couple of minutes studying his face, all too aware that these precious memories would have to satisfy me for the next two or three months while we wait for the embassy clearance. We love you sweet Aidan. Mommy and Daddy are coming back for you soon and we're going to bring you HOME!
*I do have to say, as awful as it feels to leave my child behind, he is receiving the most wonderful care. I can tell that the nurses all love him and the other children in their care. It must be as heartbreaking for them, loving him and caring for him, just to watch him leave and go SO far away. I want him home NOW, but it puts this mommy's mind and heart at ease to know that he is cherished as all children should be. :)
Durame Care Center
The main room where we first met our son
Mulu, Liam and I
Sister Meselech (the head nurse at Durame Care Center) and some of the other nurses that are taking care of Aidan until he can come home to us.