Gidget and April, two of my blog friends, are in India right now meeting their new daughters! (They aren't blogging during their trips, or I'd post links -- there is nothing better than seeing a family created right before your eyes.)
With them on my mind, I've been thinking a lot about the strangeness of meeting a little person you've gotten to know by staring obsessively at photos from halfway across the world. I wonder if it's like an arranged marriage . . .
While you wait to travel, you try to glean ideas about her personality from the handful of photos you've been given. You search each expression and try to see if she's going to be shy, outgoing, creative, athletic, sunny, fiesty . . . and in some ways you create an identity for her. (And that identity may be nothing like her actual personality!)
Then, when you arrive at your child's orphanage and actually feel the weight of your baby in your arms -- you realize that this little one doesn't have any idea that her life is about to change drastically. Although you've had time to let love grow in your heart until it's bursting with joy, she doesn't know this weepy, happy, pale stranger at all.
There was a distinct moment when I realized that, despite my consuming love for her, we were strangers to each other. I was overwhelmed with the idea that she was so vulnerable, yet willing to trust me to feed her and take care of her. What a gift that trust was.
Then the real love begins -- the kind where you really get to know each other, where you're up late with a jet-lagged baby, where you get to see the first belly laughs, where you find out which songs are favorites, where you catch vomit, where you get used to each other. Where real life happens . . . together, forever.
I continue to marvel at the way she fits naturally into our hearts and family. It reminds me that God already knows who our next daughter will be, even as we wait for those first pictures of her.