Friday, June 4, 2010

Leila's Story

In honor of Leila's Gotcha Day, here is her story.

~January 25th, 2008
We had given up on adopting. Guatemala shut down and just as we approached the top of the list for Vietnam, they closed too. Perhaps it was a sign of visions not meant to be. On this day, God told us otherwise. We received an e-mail from our adoption agency of a baby needing a home in a place we had never heard of. Tid bits of her circumstances were provided but sketchy at best, with one statement contradicting the other. She had scars from a burn of unknown origin but none of this even mattered. Those eyes told us, and our families, that this baby was meant to be ours.
We officially "accepted" the referral and made plans to travel and meet our beauty two weeks later. I sent out a mass e-mail to friends and family announcing the big news.

Two weeks later we boarded a plane that I swore would not be able to get off the ground due to it's enormous size. This would be my first time leaving our great country and needless to say I was extremely worried yet bursting with excitement at the same time.

We landed in Bishkek where we were taken to our hotel for the rest of the day and night, we would meet "Alina" tomorrow. Spending the day away was difficult, we were so close now.
Morning came and we were taken to the orphanage. I should have paid attention to the scenery and beauty of this country as we drove for hours, yet only visions ran through my head; parents holding their children for the first time, feeling her heart next to mine, looking in her eyes and telling her "I"m mommy!", checking all ten fingers and toes just as any "new parent" would do. My heart raced as we entered the gates of the orphanage. We walked up what must have been 6 steps but felt like 30. Through the doors, now I could hear the children......we were so close, so close so that no one could take this moment away from me now, or so I thought.
There was a woman holding a baby that was so tiny she looked ill. This baby looked Kyrgyz but too small and frail to be the baby we saw in the referral picture, "not her" I told myself. So I began to examine the small room for my baby. The woman holding the frail baby motions for us to come over. She speaks in Russian so our driver attempts translation: "Baby very sick, very weak, no oxygen to brain, encephalopathy, she cannot do x, y and z" then they hand her to me.

I panicked. The room began to spin and I had to sit. Everything was a blur but what I do remember is that they gave her to me, had us sit down and we took our first family picture.

I thought to myself: what do you mean "first family picture?" This is not the baby we were told about. That baby had a scar and nothing more, she was healthy, she was plump. What does this mean for her? Will she survive childhood? Will she live in a wheelchair? Is there any brain function? If we were to bring this child into our lives that needed such intense care, what would that mean for Jalyn? Can we walk away at this point? We've come so far, we've spent too much money, there would not be anymore options for us after this. We are here and I can not believe we are finding this out HERE and not THERE. I can't talk to my husband in this place, they will judge us and think we are horrible people. I must look happy and we will discuss this when we get to the hotel. I'm burning up, I can't smile, I have to leave.

The drive back to the hotel was a terrible one. We didn't speak in fear of being misunderstood by our driver, or rather, judged by our driver. I quietly wept as Tariq held my hand the entire way back.

We finally arrived and upon entering the door, my knees buckled beneath me and loudly I wailed. "What? Why? Now?" I cried. "Where do we go from here?" Calmly and in a take-charge manner Tariq said "we research, we become educated in her needs and what we can do here to help her, then we fight like hell to get her home." "So you still want to go through with this given the fact she may have serious needs?" "Yup" he says. "What will become of her if we were to walk away? Who would take her and give her the life she so deserves? God has brought us to her for a reason and we can't turn our backs on that". Instantly, the stars aligned, my heart began to slow and I was able to take it all in. I laid on the bed, wept some more and fell into the deepest sleep I've ever experienced and didn't wake until morning.

A new day. My daughter. I want nothing more than to go have the meeting we deserved to have the first time. She is mine and I am hers. Even when we as parents are blessed to have children naturally, we are not given the privilege of choosing their level of health. Whatever lies ahead for her future didn't really matter from this point on. She would have anything she needed medically speaking and I had a supportive husband and family back home. All was OK. Now all I want is to feed her, stare into those eyes and tell her I am mommy. But first, since we were Americans and in the medical field, a big day had been planned for us. We were taken to a neurological hospital where a team of doctors had breakfast waiting. We witnessed surgeries, met with patients and very quickly realized just how fortunate we are to live where we do. While I was grateful for the privilege of being given a private tour, I wanted nothing more than to be at that orphanage.

Our daughter, our baby girl. She was a daddy's girl from the very beginning.

We spent the next few days getting to know her and the staff. We arranged for one-on-one care until we could be back to take her home.

And this is where the story truly begins, the fight to bring you home.

To be continued......


  1. Cannot wait for more....I just love her so much through your eyes!!!!

  2. I appreciate the honesty about your emotions and conflicts - such an important story deserves no less. You make a great point about having no control over the health of biological children, either. No matter how our children came into our lives, they are OURS, and as parents we play the cards we're dealt as best we can. And your husband is a keeper - what a phenomenal perspective in a difficult situation. Looking forward to reading the next installment.