Exactly one year ago, when finally I had become an American citizen, my menopausal ups and downs had settled and my career as a photographer made me proud but no longer felt like a jealous single child, I strongly felt I had grown into what’s called a grownup and decided to adopt a child.
Looking into international adoptions, my courage quickly lost steam. My age (52), my single marital status, and the bureaucracy that is international adoption quickly curbed my enthusiasm. A dear friend suggested that I talk to a friend of hers that successfully adopted 2 children domestically. First I resisted of course, since my mind was set on a child from an exotic destination, much because of my many travels as a photographer and documentary filmmaker to those beloved destinations.
Countless hours browsing on the Internet followed, adding to my confused and increasingly discouraged frame of mind. Then I landed on a website I finally liked, with its clean, tasteful and uncluttered appearance. I called AdoptHelp, met with attorney / president / owner Mark Goldman, and immediately signed up.
The birthmother letter is the first big hurdle. I loved doing it. It was an opportunity to reflect on my motif, my family, my persona, my lifestyle, and above all, the entirely new life upon which I was about to embark. Again I got great help from my marvelous AdoptHelp caseworker, and even if we disagreed on a few issues she let me have my way, yet held a firm and experienced position.
For seven months, I anxiously awaited and kept busy. I kept traveling and working on my involved projects to foreign destinations, knowing very well that I’d better accomplish what I could, since a newborn would change my workflow entirely. My caseworker reassured me often that there was no reason to panic, and I felt confident that I was in good hands.
Then, it happened. My caseworker who knew I was hoping for a baby from an exotic place informed me that I had been chosen by a young birth mother in Southern California of Sri Lankan origin. I also was told that they did not know the baby’s gender. I had wanted a girl, but quickly realized that it did not matter. I said YES! I was tremendously exited, yet I got cold feet. Was it really happening? So fast? I was able to overcome my fears. I couldn’t believe it was a child from the country I just had spent several months filming and was emotionally and spiritually deeply connected.
Koda Mae, my daughter, now 11 weeks old as I am writing this, is carrying the name I came up with traveling to Sri Lanka 12 months ago. I had strongly felt then the soul to become my child was being conceived at that time. I later found out that my intuition was right. Our magical journey together started early.
Koda’s Birth mother was a young, bright and beautiful girl from Sri Lanka studying in Los Angeles, not ready to raise a child. First she had wished for a closed adoption, not wanting to know me. Later she changed her mind much to my excitement since our almost daily extended phone conversations gave me much insight about her feelings, her thoughts, the pregnancy, her health, her lifestyle, the child’s father, her cultural background and so on.
Right on time little Koda Mae decided to come to this world on a sunny Monday afternoon, taken care of by the best doctors in one of the best American hospitals. Birth was exiting and frightening. The birth mother, the birth mother’s mother, our AdoptHelp caseworker, and I were all in the labor and delivery room to welcome Koda Mae into the world. When she finally appeared all healthy and beautiful, I was ecstatic. Instant motherhood is a weird feeling. My mother instinct kicked in immediately and the bonding process instantly began.
The next day we visited a last time with Koda Mae’s birth mom, noticed how much she looked like her, and had a tender and loving closing. 24 hours after Koda Mae’s birth, we were home. That night, laying in my bed and watching my newborn daughter’s beautiful little face as she fell asleep in my arms, my heart felt expanding like a drop into water and I realized I already had fallen in love with her.
Koda Mae is now 11 weeks old. Days and nights have lost their names, we sleep, we eat, we change diapers, we take baths, and we look into each other eyes endlessly and giggle like lovers do. And I am taking countless photographs trying to capture the fleeting moment of ever-present impermanence? It is a magical journey to get to know each other. To feel when she is hungry, uncomfortable, or wants me close. No words are exchanged, yet its total communication. It’s miraculous.
My journey as a mother is still very young, but I already can tell how much more complete it makes me in my perception of life and love. Here is this precious little seed that brings all to this world that is needed. It is my job to make this seed grow big and strong and help her to attain her fullest potential. Our unconditional friendship will be the foundation upon which she will stand. She came into my life to make me a better person, and I came into hers to give her a better life. We are in it for each other for good.
Thank you AdoptHelp for making my dream come true! When I needed help, my calls were answered. When I needed guidance to make difficult decisions, I received great advice. When I was frustrated or anxious, I got a kind hug and an encouraging pat on the back that got me going again. You guys are awesome! Thank you all! You are the Best!