The journey started so many months ago with a piece of paper, an envelope and a stamp. That first piece of paper was followed by so many more. Paper ruled my life. It was an emotional roller coaster that I was not sure I would survive.
The paper roller coaster finally ended and a true journey started.
It started with a plane ride. Three plane rides full of anxious joy or joyous anxiety. (You know the kind when you are so excited and terrified that you think you will burst out of your skin or puke.) There is not so much to do on a plane except think. Thinking about what it will be like, how he will be.
I thought and thought about it. In fact it was more of an obsession. I could not wait to see him. It was torture to got to the hotel next to the care center knowing that we would have to wait some more to see him.
When the time finally arrived, all of the families walked to the care center and waited in the main room to meet their children for the first time. They brought the children in one by one. The infants were carried and the toddlers walked. The parents waited with anxious joy until they were able to hold their children.
Lion was brought in towards the end. I could see him walking down the stairs. He was nervous and crying. I do not know what he thought or felt at that moment but he was not happy. When he was placed in my arms for the first time, he cried, screamed and pushed away. He was looking for someone, anyone but me.
It was not the moment I pictured but I was prepared. I did my best to reassure him but he would not be comforted. We were told that he had bonded with one of the nannies. I was relieved. The fact that he had formed an attachment meant that he could transfer the attachment to us.
I was relieved but the next two days of visits to the care center were difficult. While other families were playing with their children, Lion would cry, hit and bite Frink and myself. He was always looking for a nanny to come and save him. We did the best we could, holding and rocking him. "Ishi, ishi, ishi" I repeated those words over and over. "It's ok. It's ok. It's ok." At times I was repeating it more to myself than him.
Finally on June 15, 2010 (after a visit to the region where he was born and a visit with his birth father - a story I will not tell here but keep for him) we took custody of our little Lion. This is the day I choose to celebrate as our family day. This is the day we became a family with Lion.
Walking out of the doors of the care center and back to our hotel caused a shift in our relationship. It was as if he saw us for the first time. He looked at us in this new environment and thought "okay it's them". He did not fight us. He did not look for someone else. He did not cry. Instead, he began to relax. He began to allow us in.
It was that time, spent in a hotel room 7900 miles from home, that our family bond began. The journey that began with a piece of paper ended with a little boy sleeping in our arms.
We were his. He was ours. We were a familly.