It was past 8:00 pm on December 31st 2009 when Nina and I landed in the Minneapolis airport. A wheelchair greeted us as a man held a sign that read “Stumbo.” His surprise showed as I placed a sleeping Nina on the wheelchair with no other explanation as of why a child would require the service, but rather a, “Get me out of here as quickly as you can please, I prefer running.” He could see in my eyes that I had been crying.
He didn’t run, but he did rush us through the airport straight to those blessed doors that led to baggage claim…and the rest of my family. I spotted Andy right away, but he was expecting us to come out the same doors the rest of my flight companions would be exiting from. I did not have the mind to think of what was socially acceptable, or what would be an embarrassing moment. I yelled his name and began running towards him, “Andy! Honey! I am here!” Running, and hoping that the man pushing Nina would follow me. Ellie saw me first and ran to me. We held tight as we said how much we had missed each other, how long 7 weeks had been. Andy walked with Nichole sleeping on his chest, but as soon as we embraced, we began sobbing. It had been a long emotional journey, the adoption process had been so hard, but we were finally together.
Nina woke up and sat scared on the wheelchair. All the people around her were strange and different. When we buckled her in the car seat she lost it, and her coping mechanism was to go into a deep sleep until the following day.
It was the morning of January 1st 2010 that we all woke up together. All 5 of us; a new year and a new beginning for our family. That was 2 years ago.
Adoption was hard. Really hard.
Some people talk about meeting their adopted child and immediately falling in love. They talk about how they love them no different from their biological children, and how easy the transition was in becoming a family.
I did not immediately fall in love with Nina loving her the same as my other 2 girls, and our transition took a very long time.
We have worked very hard at building this love. She has been challenging and frustrating more times than I can count. We have tackled behaviors and emotional issues that have made me feel like the biggest failure of a mother and helpless. But we keep at it, we keep working, we keep trying, and we keep loving. She has taught me more about unconditional love than anyone else has in my lifetime.
Moreover, she has been delightful, tenacious, courageous, and strong!
And she has been my inspiration…more times than I can count too.
She is my own. I am her mother, she is my daughter. We keep chugging along, tackling whatever comes our way. Whether it is bonding, walking, Cerebral Palsy, learning, or enjoying life. We keep at it, we keep on going.