Today is Tuesday, November 25, 2008. Five years ago, it was Tuesday, November 25, 2003. For most people that might not have much meaning. But for me, it was a day I will never forget. It was the day that I held my sweet daughter in my arms for the first time. I had had only pictures to gaze at for the preceding six months. Finally, she was in my arms, even though it was only for a few days. This was only a "visit trip." I was still awaiting approval from the powers that be in Guatemala. So, I had decided that since Thanksgiving was a time to be with family, I was going to be with my daughter. I was going to Guatemala for Thanksgiving!
My mom decided that she was going with me. I'm not sure that my dad liked the idea of the two of us taking off to a foreign country like that. OK...I know for sure that he didn't like it. But he also knew that he couldn't change our minds. Once we decide to do something...it's pretty much a done deal.
We each had early morning flights from our home towns to Houston, TX. There, we met at the gate from which our flight to Guatemala would depart. The flight was easy. I had a book with me, but I don't remember being able to read much. I was too excited, filled with the anticipation of actually meeting and holding my daughter, my Gloria! Landing in Guatemala, going through customs, arriving at the Marriott...those are all pretty much a blur at this point. I do remember the phone ringing in our room about 15 minutes after we arrived and hearing "We're here in the lobby with your daughter." A mad dash for cameras ensued and down we went to meet Gloria, her dear foster mother, and my attorney's daughter. We got off the elevator and...there they were. Real! Live! In person!
Here is a picture from those first moments...
Gosh, she's so tiny! I look at this picture and am overwhelmed by how much time has gone by, how much Gloria has grown and changed, how much I have grown and changed, how much we have grown and changed together. It's simply mind-boggling.
We were there, together, for four days. We played, sang, walked, got to know each other, met other adopting families, and soaked up every moment (pictures and videos were not in short supply). Placing Gloria back in her foster mother's arms at the end of our visit was one of the hardest things I think I have ever done. I had no idea how much longer it would be before she was in my arms forever. But I had the memories of this time together to sustain me.
Now, Gloria loves to ask me to tell her the story about Maggee and me visiting her in Guatemala. She fills in the gaps if I leave out any little detail. That time was priceless for me. And now, it's priceless for Gloria too.