Gail holding our Grace Lanli.
View outside our hotel window.
It has been 4 years since we got her but our journey to Grace started a long time ago...Gail and I have been together over 20 years. We first met 33 years ago and were reintroduced 21 years ago after we both had taken a first failed crack at marriage. Our lives have run strangely parallel (and with occasional crossings) ever since we both attended the same high school. We had lockers in the same hallway, some classes together and we even had overlapping groups of friends. I have pictures from high school where we both are in the shot but with different people. We never dated or had more than a conversation in the hallway. We went to the same college. Her best friend/roommate dated a guy in the dorm room next to mine and our paths crossed there but we still didn't connect. We were both born in northern Illinois (different towns but both families closely linked to Chicago) in the same year. Our families moved to southern Indiana (the same town but opposite sides-in more ways than one) in the late '60s. We both married high school sweethearts and (surprise!) it didn't work out. When we finally got together the "Journey" began. Failed attempts to have biological children led us to seek other routes. We were delighted to raise Gail's biological son (Nick) but always wished he had a sibling.
The whole adoption process causes you to do a lot of introspection. You need to identify your doubts/insecurities and face them. Your decision will affect your life and many people's lives - forever. It shouldn't be taken lightly. We decided that we wanted to adopt and chose China. I don't know who or how they chose us to give us Grace but I thank them and God with all my heart. We loved her before we saw her and she has grown to love us. I can't imagine my life any other way yet there were so many things that had to go just right to get us here at this time in our lives. I can't help but think about the odds of all these coincidences lining up the way they did. I'm not a person that really believes in coincidences.
When you first meet your child, you never forget it. We were waiting in our room in the Gloria Plaza hotel, in NanChang as nervous as any first date. The knock on the door told us our time had come. There was the Director of the orphanage, our social worker, a nanny and our little girl. Not knowing the protocol - Do we invite them in? Do we grab our child? Gail spoke to Grace softly. Though shy, Grace smiled at her...and then Gail took her in her arms from the nanny. She was stunningly beautiful, the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. I have to say the rest of the evening was kind of a blur...we played with Grace, held her, loved her and fed her. She was perfect in every possible way.
There are those times in life where it seems like you're standing in a doorway. No matter what you choose, walk through or stay where you are, life will never be the same. We walked through a doorway four years ago and it changed our lives forever. I wouldn't have it any other way.