August 09, 2016
Nikky + Sefiagger
The journey to becoming a parent does not always turn out the way you imagined and mine was no exception. After many rounds of IVF, losses and heartbreak, I started to think about the alternative ways of having a child and I was told that being a parent wasn't about looking at your child in amazement because they look like you. It’s about helping your child take their first steps, watching their eyes light up when you walk in the room, snuggling in a chair and reading bedtime stories. Unconditional love. I know it sounds so obvious but it took many months for me to wake up one morning, lean over to my husband and say "we are going to become parents through adoption."
We started the process almost immediately after we made the decision. We knew we wanted to work with a non profit agency and we knew we wanted to adopt from Ethiopia. We started off with a mound of paperwork which had to be worked through — health checks, police checks, personal references, work references, online courses, visits from social workers. We spent our Saturday mornings lazing on the bed drinking tea and filling out forms and I can easily say that those Saturday mornings were probably the most amazing moments of our life. Paperwork has never been more rewarding.
Once everything was filed, we were put on a waiting list. I spent the next six months anticipating every call to be THE CALL. And then it happened. The phone rang exactly twelve months after we first made the decision to adopt and I don't really remember much because I was screaming most of the time but I know they said “baby girl” and “check your computer to see her picture.” We opened up the email and I sat there out of this world happy and incredibly nervous. Then the picture came up and there she was, a little smiling sunbeam.
That call came in October and by January, after carrying around her photo for three months, my husband and I were traveling to Addis Ababa. She was 5 1/2 months when we arrived. We spent the first night in a guest house and then the following day we were taken to the orphanage with other families who were also adopting. In the waiting room, they brought each of our babies out one at a time. Sefiagger was the third child they brought into the room and she was even more beautiful in real life than I could have ever imagined
I’m Australian and baby showers aren’t a big thing there, but my dearest friend insisted that I have a shower and I conceded with the condition that it was to be more party than baby shower. The upside of having a baby shower when you are not pregnant is that you can put your party pants on and have a few drinks so my recollection is vague after many hours of dancing and staggering into the house with my husband around 5 am.
I find it so hard to find the words that can capture that moment when I first held Sefiagger. Extreme joy mixed with total contentment, a melting heart, completeness. After the nanny handed her to me I stared at her in my arms for I don't know how long but I eventually gave her to my husband to hold and almost immediately, she fell asleep in his arms. We had to leave her there at the orphanage that night which was the hardest thing I have ever done. We came back the following day and she was laying on a mat on the floor in the waiting room with some other babies. I walked over to her and she looked up and gave me the biggest smile. That was my baby and I was her mom.
For me, being a mother means to enrich my children's lives with different experiences, to instill a sense of confidence, to appreciate and embrace their differences and not be afraid to be who they are, all while having a whole lot of fun. Two and a half years after we came back to New York with Sefiagger, I miraculously fell pregnant with my second daughter, Juniper. You can always become a mother, it just might not be the way you predicted it to happen.