We met up with them outside of Annaleigh's orphanage. I stepped out of our car just as my daughter's mother stepped out of hers. Her beautiful round belly proudly announcing she was carrying a child. Her eyes were the most beautiful seafoam blue I have ever seen. I will never forget them. She was beautiful! Her husband joined her outside their car. He was young and handsome and in many ways reminded me of my own husband when he was a few years younger and had less grey. Our facilitator joined us and the five of us stood. Silent. Our facilitator began speaking to them in Ukrainian as we curiously smiled and greeted one another. It was cold and Gage clung to my hand. I was speechless but my mind was racing. I wondered if Gage was too cold, if they liked us, if I should ask her questions, ..... She handed me a gift bag. I took it, smiled, and thanked her in Ukrainian. Our facilitator began telling her about us. Our other adopted children and our home in Florida.... I asked our facilitator to tell her we loved Annaleigh, and how smart and beautiful her daughter was and that I could see now that she had her daddy's dark eyes. She did and she began to cry. I wanted to reassure her and lift her burden, tell her thank you and let her know I would take care of Annaleigh and love her and I would give her a good life. Instead... I hugged her. I tried to tell her through that hug that I would love her daughter for a lifetime, that I did not judge her, that I was sorry in this world we all had to endure these hardships. I told her through that hug that she was important to us and to her daughter and that we respected her and cared about her feelings and thoughts and traditions. She explained that she had named "Anna" after her grandmother. That they were born on the same day. We shared that we would keep that as part of Annaleigh's name and she was happy. Gage was confused about all the hugging so he tried to get in on it and give her a hug too. We all laughed! Our facilitator pointed out the time and the cold and we reluctantly had to say goodbye. We headed off to court and passed them on the narrow road as they pulled up to Building #2. Anna's building... Annaleigh's building. They were going to say their goodbyes. It was my turn to cry.
On our drive back, after court, I reflected on our meeting. I looked out the car window at the enormous decaying apartment buildings. Hundreds of people driving and walking. So many people in this world. Where we are, who we are, what happens to us..... so much of it is chance. Children with disabilities, children with Down Syndrome, are not accepted here in Ukraine. I remembered the disgust on the faces of Ukrainian woman that saw me in Kyiv with Edgar and Dunham a few years ago. I thought about life in Ukraine and how challenging it was. She was just a mom. She cannot change this entire country, the way they treat special needs, or public access to education, medical, or therapy. She cannot make others love her child or value her child. I thought about the baby growing in her tummy and how happy she must be for this new life. I smiled. I am happy for her. I am happy for me and for Annaleigh, for Papa Quinn and our entire family. To think I would have missed this if we had been too sad, too tired, too frightened to continue. To know why the name Anna had been so important to this journey. To see God's plan unfold, so perfect, so good.