A child from another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me. Jody Landers

A child from another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me.

Jody Landers

I stepped off the plane, my overnight bag & breast pump contraption slung over my shoulder. The warm tropical air wrapped around me and clung to my body like a sleepy baby. I’d just left my 3-week-old middle son home in the loving care of my mom, while my dad escorted me to this foreign place. It was my first time visiting Guatemala, the land that was giving me my 10 month old & oldest son. My husband had been with him, bound to a hotel room for the past 3 days. I arrived around 10:00p.m., the Sunday before our Monday morning US Embassy appointment. This was the final piece of the adoption process puzzle.

I opened the hotel door to find my husband passed out asleep on the bed, with Tomas in the pack-and-play crib. He was standing up looking around the room with a leery curiosity.  Our eyes met and in a matter of moments questions were both asked and answered of each other.

“Who are you?

Why are you here?

What is happening now?”

I put down my bags, walked over and cautiously picked him up. He pushed his shoulders back, trying not to touch me without falling out of my arms. His body language revealed his confusion and mistrust. I formally introduced myself, and let him know he had all the time in the world to get to know me. I promised to support him no matter what. My husband woke up and I kissed him hello. He shared how exhausted he was, how hard he was trying to figure out this father thing, how much he didn’t know – basically all the things that come with the “New Parent” title. I replied, “Well, that sounds vaguely familiar.” (I reminded him later that I had delivered our middle son via c-section 3 weeks ago and was getting up every 3 hours since then to feed said son). Early on parenting feels like a bit of competition. That’s for an entirely different story…….

The next morning after very little sleep, we alertly walked down the bustling Guatemalan city street to the US Embassy. Military men adorning AK-47’s were scattered on the public pavement as we made our way to the building. We met a long line outside the door filled with many Guatemalans, and many white parents with Guatemalan children waiting to do exactly what we were there for. When the building opened we entered, and waited. An entire bag of baby biscuits and several hours later, we were finally called back to a small dark room. Inside it sat a very friendly and official American man, who asked us many questions. After answering them and swearing it was all true, the adoption process was done. Tomas was legally our son. We walked back to our hotel, had an early dinner & visited with another couple who had become our friends throughout this year long process.

I made my way back to the airport to head home later Monday evening. Pete, Tomas, and my dad would return to Milwaukee in a couple days – when all the legal paperwork, and passports were finalized. It felt like I left just as soon as I had arrived.

Tomas has been home with us, his family, for 13 years now. Each August 1st we celebrate his “Homecoming Day”, the day commemorating when he came into our lives for good.

Adoption is one of the most humbling, holy, heartbreaking, and heart-fulfilling acts there is. All adoptions start with loss. I grieved not being able to get pregnant for 3 years. Then Tomas was born. He immediately lost his first home in his birth mom. She wanted more for him than she could provide. She suffered a loss. Tomas lived in a hogar until he was 10 months old and officially became our son. He then lost the only place he felt safe, loved, and cared for. He lost his second home and they lost him, a boy they loved & cared for as their own. He was thrust into a completely foreign life, the newness of it all inundating every one of his senses. He has grieved and loved more profoundly than most adults I know. The strength in him amazes me daily.

I’ve come to believe that before children come into the world, they choose their parents ~ in order to teach them, and heal old wounds buried deep inside. My heart fills with such joy knowing that you chose me, Tomas, and you are healing me as much as I am raising you.

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