Before September 11th, I regularly greeted families at the airport as they arrived home with their new child. I’d wait at the gate with a lump in my throat, and, as I’d see the family coming off the plane, my eyes would fill with tears. All of those months of paperwork, phone calls, excitement and frustration were all coming together in that moment – a new child, in a new family, in a new country. In those years, the agency I worked for was only 10 minutes from the airport, and I attended many arrivals. I’d even show up in the middle of the night for families coming home on red eye flights. There is nothing more exciting than seeing families and children when they first arrive home.
These days, I don’t go to many arrivals. With heightened security keeping visitors out of terminal areas, it’s more hectic to meet families in the middle of the frenzied international baggage claim area, and our agency isn’t close to the airport anymore. But if ever there is an opportunity to be there when a family arrives home, I try to take advantage of it.
This weekend, I attended an arrival for a special little girl here in the Seattle area. The roads were packed that day, and the traffic made me anxious. I didn’t want to miss the big moment! For the last year, this little girl’s story has captured my heart, and I wanted to be there to see her first moments with her new family here in America.
After parking the car, I hurried into the airport and found my position at the top the escalator that leads to the baggage claim area. Beside me stood family and friends with “Welcome Home!” signs, children running around, searching each face on the escalator, waiting for this celebrated little one to make her appearance. It was a loud and busy and excited bunch!
Then I saw her face, riding up the escalator, her hand firmly grasping her mother’s. And my eyes filled with tears. She was grinning from ear to ear, looking around and taking it all in. Her life here is just beginning — a life filled with promise and overflowing with the love of her new parents and family. She’s here!
I like to say that each piece of paper we touch here at Agape Adoptions is connected to a child, living in an orphanage, waiting for a forever family. It’s why we’re so serious about doing our work with excellence, because children’s lives depend on it. It is such an honor to see the culmination of that work in the face of a smiling child who has found a family to love her forever. That’s why I love arrivals.
Photo courtesy of Finally a Family of Five