Welcome Home Baby Lee! by Brenda S. Riddle

Being "Mama" to baby Lee is the most incredibly wonderful experience of my life! The joy of being a parent is beyond description, but the way it came about for us is a bit out of the ordinary.

On Derby Day 1995, we received approval as an adoptive home. Just two days later, a phone call announced the referral of a baby boy waiting for us in Guatemala! For fifteen weeks we waited for the Guatemalan adoption process to become finalized. For me, though, the bonding process began when we received pictures of Lee. We were lucky that the adoption worker was planning a medical mission trip to Guatemala in a couple of weeks. She would get to visit the baby and the foster family while in Guatemala. She promised to take pictures and send them to us.

Our bags stayed packed and waiting. In late August, we received the phone call to "fly!" We spent a couple of days in Guatemala sightseeing, getting a feel for the Guatemalan culture, gathering memories to share with Lee in later years.

The plan was for the attorney, interpreter, and foster Mom and Dad to bring the baby to our hotel room around 5:00 p.m. Here we were waiting, waiting, waiting again! Five o'clock passed, six o'clock passed. We watched TV in Spanish. I sewed a button on a sweater. We played "hang-man." We tried not to let our imaginations run wild and I found myself saying, "This is God's will; it's going to happen!"

Finally the knock on the door came. They're here! I showed Lee the rattle I had for him and took him in my arms. (My husband, Larry, was gracious enough to let me hold the baby first!) It was clear that the foster mother and father loved baby Lee, who had been in their care for about four months. They were sad to let him go, but happy for his new life with us.

Close to the time for our visit to end, baby Lee was sleepy. I let his foster Mom get him to sleep, then they quietly slipped out. Of course, Larry and I were soaking up everything about the precious sleeping baby who was now ours! I didn't get much sleep that night because I just wanted to watch the baby. Larry snoozed away!

We had to be at the United States Embassy by 7:30 a.m. the next morning. The interpreter met us at the hotel and went with us to the Embassy. We made application for baby Lee's visa, which we would be able to pick up in the afternoon.

Our trip home was long, but which one of us didn't sleep as soon as we got home? Me, of course! I was too excited. My Mom called, then one of my best friends, Lori, called to share in our joy. So many people were praying for us!

People who haven't adopted may wonder about "bonding" with an adopted child. From talking with others who have adopted and from what I've read on the subject, I gather that bonding with an adopted child is similar to bonding with a biological child; it occurs naturally for most, yet it's different for different people. For me, bonding with baby Lee was the most natural thing. I find that my love for Lee becomes deeper and deeper, yet at times I think I couldn't possibly love him any more than I already do! Now I know why babies are called "a bundle of joy!" I've also noticed that most things other parents have told me about the perils of parenting usually turn out to be true. Yeah, I'm forty "plus" and having the time of my life! Thanks be to God!!!

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