That girl whose picture I'd stared at for months was right in front of us, in the flesh. She was older, skinnier, tanner, had crazier hair, but it was absolutely her. I told my husband afterward that it felt like a celebrity sighting. Not that I've had many of those in my suburban life, but occasionally in airports or waiting in line at a ski slope, I've seen someone I "know" and I just can't help but stare (how tacky) because this person that I've only known as an image has now come to life. I almost blurt out a greeting, but just in the nick of time, I realize that of course I don't really know them and they certainly don't know me. Until that moment at The Lottery Hotel, our daughter had been only an image--a cherished image--but just an image still the same.
When we first saw our son's picture and talked and prayed about adding him to our family, I thought a lot about what I envisioned as the little boy behind the photos. I read and reread the information sent by the orphanage. I tried to imagine his life as it was in China. I tried to imagine his life as it would be in our family. He felt very much like a person. After we made the decision to adopt him, we threw ourselves headfirst into the process. We had to. China gave us a three month deadline to have our papers not only finished, but logged-in. We made the deadline by one day. After that hurdle was cleared, there were always other milestones on the horizon. More paperwork. More forms. More signatures. Somewhere in the midst of the paperwork, I stopped focusing on the boy in Kunming, and focused more on the process to get him home.
Now, as of this week, we're waiting for only one more paper--our T.A. It's hit me that even though I frequently look at his pictures and say his name in my prayers, I haven't really thought about our son, the person, in a long time. Now that the process is nearly done, I'm adjusting my focus once again. We're building a bed for him. I'm buying him clothes. I'm picturing him at our breakfast table. I find myself staring at boys who are 3, almost 4, and hope no one is creeped out. A new little person is really coming into our home. A person is going to leave behind everything he knows. A person is going to be scared or sad or angry or excited or happy or any combination of the above.
I already love our boy, the picture. I can't wait to love our boy, the person.