This is my favorite picture from our Ukraine adoption trip. We weren't even going to take this picture because we were in such a big hurry after court to try to make it to the passport office before closing time on a Friday afternoon. We just kind of grabbed her, waved goodbye to her caretakers, signed a paper, hugged the director, and left! We also were kind of paranoid that the judge was going to change her mind about the 10 day wait as another judge had on a special needs adoption the year before. Anyway, as this picture was being taken, John was telling me to HURRY UP and get her in the taxi before they caught up to us. HA. But I refused to get in the taxi until he took my picture with Ava outside the ony home she ever knew. And so he did. And just so you know, we DID make it to the passport office just in the nick of time. :)
Anyway, I love this picture because it represents so many things to me. Just beyond that green gate was the only life Ava ever knew. This picture represents to me her former life of hopelessness and aloneness, her transition from unwanted to wanted, Ukrainian orphan to MY daughter, our new life together, a symbol of two almost-strangers committed to each other for life. This picture reminds me of so many emotions that I experienced that day. So much rushing around, the fear of saying the wrong thing in court, the anxiety of getting everything done in the right amount of time. And then....when it was all finished, and we were in the taxi on our way to get her passport to come home, John and I just looked at each other, a sleeping child on my lap, and we both started cracking up! I guess it all seemed too weird and overwhelming, everything had happened so fast and we were both just in disbelief that she was really OURS and that we were on our way home with her. I'm sure my Reece's Rainbow friends laughed when I emailed them saying, "OK, she is ours. Now what do I do with her?" I didn't have the first clue how to care for a child with Down Syndrome. I didn't know how to feed her or what to feed her, what appointments to schedule, how to teach her to sit up or roll over or how to communicate her needs. I had no clue what I was going to tell people when they asked how old my "baby" was. She and I have both learned so much this past year (and have so much more to learn). But it has been such a wonderful year and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love you baby girl! I'm glad we're together for life!