Parent in Waiting

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I remember our first date, watching her walk towards me, lithe and confident, all warm smiles and sidelong glances, and I instantly relaxed. Over curried duck and tom kha gai, our conversations danced and wandered through the rough terrain of our respective lives.

It was during this first date that my new partner told me that she was adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. She had made the decision to become a mother and not wait for a partner. At the time, my daughter, who lives with me, was two years old. It was clear that I needed to decide, early in this relationship, whether or not I wanted another child. I thought of my daughter, the son I lost five years ago, and how I wished she had a sibling. The whole night we talked, walking from one part of the city to the next, our hands and eyes holding their own discourse as we ate chocolate or watched the lights slip across the surface of the river. I was hooked.

My partner lives with me now, and we are close to bringing Lily, her daughter, home. She visited her in July. Any new parent can imagine both the joy and heartache of seeing your new daughter for the first time, bonding deeply, then having to leave her in an orphanage for months while the bureaucracy grinds away. The paperwork is stalled right now, not just ours, but many adoptions. Maybe it will be a few weeks. Maybe a few months. Maybe a year. We don't know, and the embassy or U.S. agencies involved can't tell us.

The baby we want to adopt may not be a baby any more by the time she comes home. We watch her age from afar, her bright, intelligent eyes meeting the camera, her skin the same shade of mahogany as my great grandmother's dresser in our bedroom. I look at her small hands, try to imagine the weight of her in my arms, this child, ours, that lives and breathes but is continents away.

With a Perspective, this is Mike Newland.