I am posting about Aleigha’s Gotcha Day a few days early because we will be heading out again tomorrow for another mini vacation for a few days. I knew with travel home and then her Gotcha Day celebration it would be one busy day so I decided to go ahead and put this on here now.
Aleigha came home to us from Guatemala on July 11, 2004. I had no idea at that time how much God would change us and our lives, but I cannot think back on that day without the memories flooding back. Hands down- it was THE biggest life changer for us. At our house we celebrate Gotcha Days by reminiscing, looking at old pictures, eating a special Guatemalan meal and Aleigha will get a small gift- always something coming from her country of birth- Guatemala. We will pray for her birth family and for all of the children who are still waiting for their forever families to find them. If you have ever considered adopting there are no other words I can think of to say other than JUST DO IT. You will never, ever, be the same and your life will never be more fulfilled. Thank you God for 4 years of this precious child. Thank you for allowing me to be her mother and getting to watch her grow into exactly who you made her to be. This year we put together a little video of Aleigha over the past 4 years. The song was chosen by Aleigha- it’s her favorite and she knows every single word to it. Thank you God for your promises.
Aleigha’s story written in 2005
I’m not exactly sure where our story started…one could say it began across the continent, in the beautiful country of Guatemala with a woman named Ana, who made the choice to give the child she brought into this world a chance in life that she would never be able to give her…. Or, maybe it started with a family of six from Indiana who sat in church one Sunday morning and felt the overwhelming prompting from the Lord to add to their family through adoption. But, however it first began- It happened because two women, with two different lives, both loved a child and wanted her to have the best chance.
Although I was not present the day Aleigha was born, my love was already with her. For two years we had been praying daily for the child that God had planned for our family. I didn’t know who she was or even where she would be born- but I knew in my heart that there was a child out there that was meant to be ours and that in the Lords perfect timing she would join our family through adoption.
Aleigha was born in December, 2003. We got the call from our agency, Dillon International, about 2 weeks after she was born saying that they had a baby girl from Guatemala- would we be interested? I cannot explain the emotions that I experienced in that one phone call… What would it be like to have someone hand me a child and tell me that somehow, in some miraculous way, I would be the one blessed with the privilege of loving her and calling her my own. That I would be the one she would look to when she was uncertain or cling to when she was afraid. I would get to tuck her in each night, listen to her prayers and give her good-night kisses. And, that far away there was a woman with a broken heart, selflessly, courageously, giving me all that she would never have. I hate thinking of your birth mom, Ana’s loss as my gain. I want to think of it as two woman being willing to give the child that they both love the best chance in life. I want to think of it as Aleigha having 2 of the best kinds of love that together make her complete.
After many days and nights of prayer and the unending heartache of waiting to hold our daughter for the first time, my husband and I were told we could travel to Guatemala to bring our baby girl home. I will never, ever forget the first moment I laid my eyes on her. I remember how the elevator ride felt like it took an eternity to go up 2 floors… how the hallway smelled like oranges and how I knew that once I opened the door to that hotel room my life would be changed forever. I just had no idea to what extent. As I entered the room I could hear Aleigha crying- I dropped everything in my hands and literally ran to pick her up. I looked into those big, round black eyes and without a doubt in my mind, on that day- July 11, 2004, I knew I had seen a glimpse of heaven. Aleigha stopped crying and as I held her we sat there for what seemed like an eternity…. Gazing into each others eyes, just her and I, finally, together at last. I dreamed of the life we would have together and felt the pain of waiting for so long to have her in my arms slowly disappear. I have no idea what anyone said or did around me for the next few hours… all I knew was that I finally felt whole- looking into the eyes of a precious baby girl from Guatemala who needed me as much as I needed her.
The trip home was like a dream. I felt like I was floating on a cloud. I know that they sometimes warn people that they might not ‘bond’ right away but that was not the case with us. We definitely bonded. Once back in the states we received many warm welcomes and awaiting us was a host of loved ones waving American flags as we walked off the plane. Aleigha was surrounded by an amazing amount of love and acceptance and swept into the arms of her 3 brothers and sister who had waited and prayed right along side of their parents throughout the whole process.
Our lives have been so richly blessed since Aleigha came home. Our entire family has been given such joy in watching each precious phase she goes through and receiving the unconditional love that she shares with each one of us daily. At her young age she still has no idea how the love from two different women brought her to where she is today. All she knows now is that she is safe and cherished- the way every child deserves to be.
I often wonder what would have been if both Ana and I hadn’t stepped out in faith. How Aleigha’s life would have been so different. I still think of Ana often, mostly when I have one of those ‘catches in my heart’ while watching Aleigha enjoy an ice cream cone, or hearing her say “I love you mommy”. Once again I am reminded that I am living all that Ana is missing out on. My hope is that she would be happy with the way I am raising Aleigha and like the choices I am making for her life. I wish she could know how much I respect her, but most of all, I hope that she has peace.
Below is the poem I wrote for Aleigha while waiting for her.
Miracle Across The Miles
You came as an idea
A plan engraved inside my heart
You were born to be my child
Although we started miles apart.
Far across the world from me
A woman held you near
She whispered she’d always love you,
Then left you through her tears.
Then God put His plan into action
He worked out every part
How to bring a family together
That was born a world apart.
How someone whom I’d never met
Could become my every dream
Could only be the hand of God
So close to me it seems…
Never for one second
Were you ever an unwanted child
Because my dear my love for you
Just stretched across the miles.
My heart became your resting place
Your face my every thought
The waiting it was endless
But worth the heartache that it brought.
I live for the very moment
I can fly across the seas
And finally hold you in my arms
The place God meant for you to be.
So, Until that day I’ll keep my dream
Of the Miracle across the miles…
The daughter who was meant to be
My forever chosen child.
Written by mommy, 2004