This is not my morning. It is sunrise in the East, while at home in the West our family sleeps in the cool, still night. The sunlight will soon soak into our chilled skin, warm and delicious; but for now Magdalene and I ache from our restless, uncomfortable night on the plane. Yes, red-eye indeed, we have two sets to prove it!
In the airport we see faces everywhere, some are fresh, others seem to be a bit bedraggled-looking like ours; yet each is uniquely beautiful, made in God's image. The stories held closely in the heart of each traveler are not for me to know, yet each person we see is a Somebody to Someone, whether they know it or not. To God, there is no one more valuable than they. Do they know this? In the launching and the landing, their journeys take them from my wondering.
Our adventure is encapsulated in a 29 and a1/2-hour visit. Anna, Zion's birth mother, has invited us into the next chapter of her story. She has just given birth to her second child, Isabellia, whom she will parent, with her fiancé Fisher by her side. Four years ago, when Zion was born, Anna and I were given 48 hours together in the hospital. Then, Anna was 16, fragile and brave. The exquisite intertwining of the grief and joy of adoption is difficult to describe. If you ask Dennis and me about it, tears may come before words. The beauty of an open adoption is that Anna and our family has a relationship and the pieces of the puzzle of Zion's life fit together for him to see. We love Anna fiercely, and like all our birth mothers, she is part of us.
Outside the airport, Magdalene and I are a rumpled pair. We are thankful for the metal bench, warmed by the sun, which lends us a spot to rest. Fisher stops at the curb inquiring if we are his passengers. He likes my shoes, and says so. I like his smile, but I don't say so, not just yet.
The hospital room, in dimly lit reverence, welcomes us. Anna, smiling through her exhaustion, shows us her precious child. I tremble a little in amazement, for Isabellia closely resembles Zion, yet she is pink and feminine. Our quiet hours together are rich in conversation and tender moments, but they disappear far too quickly. I weep inside, after our embraces of good-bye, for there will be challenging days ahead for this new family. But, this is not my baby. She is Anna's. This is not my family. This is Anna's. Though I love Anna, God loves her more than I do. His plan for Anna, Fisher and Isabellia is their unique journey, which we will encourage, celebrate and into which we speak life. The interwoven members of a healthy family tree must grow outward and upward separately for the branches to become strong.
The trip home is quiet and contemplative for me. Magdalene studies Science for an early morning test. She lends me her pillow, which softens the hardness I feel. Her companionship is invaluable; she is the infusion of joy, which strengthens every good thing.
Elias kindly greets us at our airport in the West at 1 a.m. Soon we will enter the cool, still night of our own home and Dennis will be there for us. When daylight arrives, Zion will gaze at the pictures of Anna and Isabellia in awe, he will be pleased as he proudly shows his siblings. In this morning there will be happy faces.