Saturday, May 14, 2011

Five years on the way to forever!

It has been five years since that amazing day; May 14th, 2006, when our daughter was placed into our arms and lives forever.  She had lived in our hearts long before that....a dream soon to be realized.

It was mother's day, 2006.  We woke up VERY early in the morning in a hotel room in Beijing.  Marc, Justin and I were on our way to Lanzhou, Gansu Province to meet the newest addition to our family.  Justin had graduated from UF just days earlier and now this newest path, was being laid down before us.  We had spent three days in Beijing, taking in the sights and sounds as well as trying to acclimate ourselves to this very exotic locale and the huge time difference.   We had accomplished much of what we had set out to and we were eager to get started, so we packed, ate breakfast and waited to get the go ahead to board the bus with the several other families that would become our adoption family and head to the airport.

The flight itself was pretty routine, other than the crazy descent to the top of a mountain where the airport was located.  The butterflies in our tummies were outta control at the thought of the life changing moment that lay ahead.  As soon as we landed and disembarked, the reality of this day really hit all of us; most especially the new daddy to be.  We were walking through the terminal and he stopped for a moment and told us how excited and terrified he was.  I think it was less so for me because I was already an experienced parent.  I have so much empathy for what a first time parent goes through as they take on this massive life change in a completely foreign environment, away from home and loved ones and with a baby who is actively grieving the loss of the only life they have ever known.

We all collected ourselves and joined our group as we gathered our baggage and loaded the bus for the one hour drive through the Gansu desert on our way to the capitol city and our hotel.  We arrived at 2:15 pm and we were told to get to the local store quickly to purchase any last minute supplies that we may need for ourselves and our babies.  We had to be back to the hotel before 3:00 pm as that was when the babies were scheduled to arrive at the hotel.  We all walked/ran to our destination and back only to find that the babies were already there.  We entered the room and in a matter of a couple of minutes we spotted Katie Starr from afar.  She looked exhausted from the long ride and had a big bump on her forehead from falling just the day before.  We eventually found out that she was taking her first steps when she fell.

The next I remember, our names were called, passports and other indentification was compared to make sure our daughter was the one that we were matched with and BAM...she was placed in my arms and she fell asleep promptly.  I was quite worried about that because I new if she woke up in a strange place with people she did not know it would be very traumatic.  I was correct but that is another story for another day.

The experience was life altering and quite surreal.  Our emotions were off the charts!  For the next 5 days in Lanzhou and then 4 more in Guangzhou we bonded with each other, with the other families and we tended to a very sickly Katie Starr who became so sick by the end of the trip that we had to go to the hospital for treatment and clearance to take the day long trip to get home.  Parenthood started with a bang and the thrill ride continues.  Parenthood is a marathon and not a sprint.  We are head over heels for our children and wholeheartedly in it for everything that we are given; the great times, the bad times, the healthy times, the sick times and all the very ordinary times in between.  All of our children are a precious gift.  The gift of Katie is a rare one.  She is quite simply an amazing and radiant human being.  I am not bragging but just stating a fact when I state that I have never dealt with as pleasant a personality as one that is possessed by this child.  Her bonding in the beginning was a tricky and long road but boy oh boy is she a loving and attached child now.  She adores all of us and she and I share a beautiful mother-daughter bond that I am thankful for with my whole heart for every day of my life.  The last five years have been amazing and the only thing that I would change if I could, would be to take away the health issues that she struggles with.  I pray one day that she is able to grow out of some of them and that a cure or a viable treatment is found for her sight disease.

This day though is for celebrating and celebrate we have!  We have had two celebratory meals (food is always a part of every celebration in our family) and we have looked at pictures, videos and mementos of that trip and that amazing day.

Katie said something to me today that both amazed me and touched me to my very core.  She said, "Mommy, I love my forever day much more than my you know why?"  "Why Katie", I inquired.  "Because my forever day was the day that I got my wonderful family who will be with me forever!"

Happy 5th anniversary precious Starr!  As we tell you every day...we love you to infinity and beyond and we WILL be there forever!