If I close my eyes and go back in time, I can still remember that day so vividly I can feel it. Jimmy and I nervously paced the confines of our hotel room, my father-in-law by our sides. We were anxiously awaiting the call from our guide that he had finally arrived.
When the phone rang--seemed like an eternity--and the words we waited for were a reality, we quickly gathered our things and headed to the elevator. We made our way up to a conference room on another floor and there he was. Daniel. The two-year-old baby whom we'd completely fallen in love with over the months we'd waited and prepared for him. He was right there in front of us.
He was handed to me, and I could immediately see he was scared. Tears welled up in his eyes but he was so brave. I knew that he needed to feel my unconditional love, and as I held him and patted his chest, his crying stopped within a minute or two. I felt the Mama Bear rise up within me when I made that harsh realization that he was ill. His pained, watery eyes and bright red, flushed cheeks revealed it; my lips meeting his burning forehead confirmed it. The Orphanage Director suggested that he see a pediatrician when we returned to the U.S. Did she not realize that our son was a medically-fragile child? Could she not see that he needed immediate attention, especially knowing he had a broken heart? It gave us a stark, new up-close-and-personal picture of the situation across the world. Orphanages do not always have the resources to care for those left behind. And the poor health of these children does not always make them a priority in a situation where there are too many of them to count. They did their best though, and I thanked God my son was finally in my arms that had ached to hold him for so long.
As I asked questions about Daniel and found out how long he'd been sick, my mind was already thinking ahead to getting pain relievers and antibiotics into his body as soon as humanly possible. I earned his trust with a container of Cheerios, placing them nonchalantly into my hand and slipping them into his mouth until he finally felt comfortable enough to retrieve them from my hand himself.
I remember the "war" we fought (shared in Chapter Five) with his multiple layers of clothing, trying to cool him down by removing some of them but, at the same time, carefully honoring his attachment to the only items in the whole world that belonged to him. It seemed like forever in that conference room, waiting for my motherly instincts to tell me that he was ready to separate from those he was familiar with and enter a whole new world with those he wasn't. But in my heart, I know he knew. In that short time, Daniel knew that I was fighting for him.
That night in our hotel room, we began to gain his trust as we soaked in those first hours with him and slowly nursed him back to health. His layers of fear and uncertainty were gently pulled back, one by one. And though my soul longs to hold our angel again on this side of Heaven, I stand firm with belief that Jesus holds Daniel in his arms now. And that fills me with all kinds of peace and hope today as I sit wearing the very same shirt I wore when I first held our boy. What a treasured anniversary.