This is Part 2 of a 3-part series, An Adoption Story. To start the story from the beginning, click here.
I’ve been with families on the mornings when they go to the hospital for their children to be born, and now I’ve been with a family on the day they went to an adoption center to meet their child for the first time. Both are pretty nerve-wracking. Both are incredibly exciting. But adoptions require a lot more paperwork.
On the morning of their family’s Gotcha Day, there was paperwork. More paperwork, after two years of paperwork. But this was the last step before we all loaded into the van to go to the adoption center, and I’m pretty sure Phillip and Eileen were thrilled to be signing these final documents.
The girls . . . not so much.It was about a 40 minute drive across town to the adoption center — and somehow Phillip stayed completely relaxed, joking with the girls up until the moment we were ushered into the room where the meeting would take place. We were told the group from the orphanage was still en route, and it sounded as if we had some time to kill before they arrived. But then, barely a minute later, they came through the doors and Eileen turned to me incredulously: “I think that’s him.”
She was finally seeing her child in person.I’ve photographed a lot of first looks at a lot of weddings — the moment the bride and groom first see each other. I’ve photographed a lot of wedding ceremonies — the moment when the bride and groom become husband and wife. But nothing prepared me for how overwhelming it would be to photograph a family becoming a family. I doubt anything could have prepared them for how overwhelming it would feel to become a family, either.
Well before they traveled to China, Phillip and Eileen sent over a book filled with their family portraits (the same portraits Danny and I shot last spring!) so their son would know their faces by the time he saw them. His nanny had read it to him for several months, familiarizing him with the people who already loved him. And he clutched that book like a security blanket — he loved it.
And the girls already loved their little brother.
Then came the return trip — the first time they took their boy home.
Back at the hotel, they settled into settling him into his new family. It was a wonderful afternoon.They sat down to read through the family book again, and it was a picture of peacefulness. But it didn’t last for long. . .
. . . and then this happened as she howled, “I don’t want a family story!” Clearly, it was naptime. So they got cozy for a nap.
And again, it was wonderful.
Part 3: Adoption Day will be on the blog tomorrow.