September 11, 2001 is not a day many of us wants to relive. Images are seared in our minds that we pray, by the grace of God, we hope to never see again. And on that day, we remember.
But September 11th is a day of JUBILATION in our home. That is our GOTCHA DAY!! Mike and I traveled to Guatemala to pick up Gabi on September 3rd, 2005. We had to spend a day pining for her in Guatemala City by some random miscommunication and during that day we enjoyed a little more of Guatemala’s culture and energy. We ate at a few yummy restaurants and enjoyed all that the Westin and a few city blocks offered. Mostly, we waited with anticipation.
The following noon, Gabi arrived with Elva, her foster mother and Elva’s family. They were so good to Mike and I and we spent days enjoying many sights, sharing meals and even opening their home to us. We came to love their precious family and especially the woman who gave care to our baby for the three months she spent in Guatemala. This is a picture of newborn Gabriella with Elva, her foster Mama. Days flew by with appointments at the Embassy Physicians and the Embassy. We made our last trip to Antigua and held Elva and her family and cried a farewell. How do you thank a woman for protecting and nurturing your baby for THREE months? We went to the zoo and when we were about to go crazy, it was time to leave.
September 11, 2005, Mike and I made the journey home to Arkansas with our baby girl. We woke up our precious sleepy baby and packed the last of our things and took our 4am ride to the airport. As we watched dawn break on Guatemala one last time, our hearts sang. We would always remember the sights and sounds of this mysterious place, but we were ready, nay, more than ready to bring our baby girl home.
When we arrived in Houston, we dashed off the plane. For some reason, my eyes stung with tears as we rounded the jet way and crossed into the airport. I yelled, to Mike’s dismay, “COME AND GET HER NOW! HA! WE’RE HOME!!!” Something incredible happened when the wheels touched down in Houston, Gabriella automatically became a US citizen and Gabi gained rights and privileges that people in Guatemala can not begin to fathom. And a defense behind me to protect the baby my heart conceived of since age 4.
Two hours later, we arrived home to Brendan pointing and yelling, “It’s GABI!” Like she had been with us his entire life. We knelt down to him, with our close family and friends surrounding us and introduced him to the sister he’d been praying and waiting for. Dave-O led us in a prayer of thanksgiving and we held tightly to some of the people who God used to gird us through the wait.
I can not fathom life without my girl, Gabi. She whispers sweet things to me each day that make life so much fuller. We reassure each other that we will always be best friends and just how proud I am that she is mine. She has an incredibly tender heart and is an incredible little sister and older sister. A darling princess and a fantastic plastic food chef. A horse afficionado and animal lover. A great giggler and a very smart cookie. She is such a gift. My heart sings just trying to put into words…..
Praise you, Father. Praise you. You saw our family before we knew breath and drew us together at the fullness of time. You are glorious.