Adoption is very much a part of both of our families. For this reason, it was an easy leap when it came down to the pursuing of it, or IVF. The next decision was between a domestic or international adoption. The latter was also a quick and easy choice for us.
With one single trip - the beautiful country, but especially the gracious and giving people of Guatemala became forever sewn into our hearts. After returning home with Aviana, I always knew I wanted to go back and help with the building of homes.
After the accident though, I sometimes have the hardest time simply looking into all those big, beautiful brown, Guatemalan eyes. Something about those eyes - they grab hold, and get me...every time. For this reason, it seems all of my return trip dreams vanished...just as quickly as that little girl I used to know.
The thought of boarding the plane alone makes me feel uneasy. But why? It's just a plane, an inanimate object, a seemingly unsuspecting collection of metal, held together by some nuts and bolts. It's just a fuselage, a few engines - maybe, a couple wings, a mere vehicle used to carry people from here to there. So why the unrest?
For me...that plane, pointing in that direction, possesses so much more. It carries with it the memories of two people, who had finally arrived at the finish line of one very long marathon. They had survived many baby miles, if you will. Two people - one new and exciting chapter plastered all over their obnoxiously, giddy faces.
Long-lost images of the last time, parading round and round...bags so neatly packed, containing perfectly picked, long awaited, and freshly laundered baby clothes - all descending upon that very country. It was a time before the very real reality had set in. I just wasn't sure my heart could handle a twisting and turning of that sort.
I also have visions of all of those smiling, wide eyed, wispy haired, perfectly brown skinned, little Guat Tots running around my legs and feet! Would I be okay? Or would they reduce me to a puddle of tears? I'm not so sure...
This may sound...well, maybe inane to some, but I can't ignore the feelings that arise. If I return to Guatemala, for a brief moment, I will feel a certain something, and sadly, it will look a little like this...I took one of your little ones - I thought I could handle it, I promised you I could, I swore I would keep her safe, give her a better life in America...but I couldn't, and I didn't. You trusted me, and I blew it.
My logical mind knows these things happen. My logical mind knows this was an accident. My logical mind knows there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent this. But for some reason, my illogical, and emotional mind steals the show anytime Aviana's country, and the people I feel have love in their hearts for her are involved. For a short time, I can't help but know that if I go back, I will feel I let them down, and more importantly, that I let her birth mother down.
I say for a brief moment in time, because if my experience with these people was what I think it was - they would understand and they wouldn't for a second think any of these thoughts, just like most kind, loving people wouldn't.
These feelings are purely generated from a place of my own deep, dark sadness over what has happened to our girl, and they are all within me, because I wouldn't even be seeing any of these people and wouldn't even have to say a word about anything if I didn't want to. All of this definitely arises in conjunction with Guatemala and her birth mother. Understandably so, as they are all tightly woven together.
So why is all of this weighing so heavily on my mind now?
A few years ago, I finally decided Guatemala was all too much for me, for my soul. I adjusted my sails and decided to let the wind blow me in a different direction. I hadn't a clue where I would end up.
Earlier this year, I met with Aviana's neurologist, and he was talking about how he was leaving soon for a trip to Mongolia. He's done this sort of trip for the past 10 years. I asked if he takes volunteers, and he said yes. From then on, I had been thinking about it for next year. I liked the idea of talking to the people who traveled far and wide about the brain, neurological problems, and the evaluations, but honestly - my heart wasn't truly feeling the same connection. So...I wasn't sure what to do.
My next step was to talk to the owner of a local cookie shop here in town. He kindly donated platters to each of the three hospitals for Aviana's Elves. He was one of the most amazing people I have ever talked to! He happens to do international trips as well, so I thought he would be a wealth of good information, and maybe he wouldn't mind if I tagged along!
But then...a really good friend of mine, who's a surgical tech at Kaiser called about a month ago. He told me they asked him to volunteer on a trip next July. He asked me to guess where? I had to blink back the tears, because I knew the answer. Everything was in slow motion, but at the very same time, happening so fast. I was terrified to let the words roll off my tongue as I asked him if I could go? He said the main doctor already knew all about Aviana and me. He has now asked him, and they have taken my passport information and are in the process of seeing if it will be okay to take me along...that is, if I decide to go?
Whenever I think about all of this, the tears always seem to find their way. It's like they go hand in hand. They are a package deal, quite intermingled. I wish to separate them, to split them, to splice them, but I cannot.
I know it will hurt. I know I will cry. I know painful triggers will be looming around every corner, but that's okay - I'll be okay - Better than okay.
I suppose it might be best for me to pick another country, but the fact remains, and always will, this one in particular, and the people within, have my heart. They captured it a long time ago, and never let go. No matter where I go, I will always want to be there...so I have my answer. I already know this will be one of the greatest things I will ever do in my lifetime.
I'm hoping the fulfillment and gratitude I will feel in helping will push out some of the heartache : ) I want for something else to fill that space within. The way I always see it is....something good always far outweighs something not so good!
The families of Guatemala will be traveling great distances and for multiple different types of surgeries, including cleft palates, etc. These various surgeries will be for the whole families.
Everything in me wants to do this, needs to do this. For them, for me, for Avi.
What I need, is to step out of my own way, stop thinking, and just do it...
that is, if they will have me.
Antigua, Guatemala 2007