|Karen and Kyra|
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The Road to Kyra
by Karen Lynch
“Look, Mommy! Lil Sis. “
Aidan pointed to the personalized license plate on the car ahead as we drove to school. We had been searching everywhere for signs that his baby sister would soon join our family, our variation of I Spy.
The wait seemed interminable. There were, of course, the reams of paperwork. Then, countless referrals we had extracted from friends and employers, people willing to testify we were a wholesome, or at least, wholesome-ish family. Next came the home study. After a frenzy of cleaning, we welcomed a social worker to scrutinize our house, and interview our biological sons.
But the biggest obstacle to bringing home our baby girl from China was my husband. Greg, nearly 50, said he was done parenting small children. Our boys were finally self-sufficient, and Greg was ready to find a large comfortable spot on the couch and vegetate.
Parents adopting from China speak of the red thread, an invisible string connecting the future parent to an orphan on the other side of the world. A red thread had mysteriously woven itself through my heart, though I had no idea how it had happened. But it felt no different from being pregnant with a long-desired baby. I was certain my daughter was in China, and I was relentless in my quest to bring her home.
Greg, however, was not experiencing the red thread phenomenon. A fiscal conservative, he had calculated most of the foreseeable moves in our lives. Adopting a child was not one of the foreseeable moves on his flowchart.
I tried to unravel the red thread from my heart. With my husband so adverse to the idea, wouldn’t it be foolhardy to risk my marriage for this stranger? But my daughter was not a stranger. Though I had yet to see her photograph, she was inexplicably as real to me as Keenan and Aidan, our ten and seven year old sons.
When he realized I would not relent, Greg agreed to couple’s counseling. Susan was nearly Greg’s age, and her adopted multi-racial toddlers played harmoniously in the backyard with their older siblings during our sessions. Our counselor’s parental status was a fortunate coincidence, not, as Greg jokingly accused, part of my diabolical plan. Greg expressed his concerns. Would she be healthy? Would she have some obscure medical condition? Suffer from attachment disorder? These were valid considerations. Finally, he allowed me to begin the paperwork, with the caveat that he reserved the right to change his mind. There was no enthusiasm in Greg’s surrender, but I took the small victory and ran with it.
Aidan was dieing for a little sister. He imagined she would adore him, and he would share his vast years of life experience with her. Keenan was neutral, willing to go along with any path we chose.
Because Greg’s agreement felt so tenuous, I began reaching out to God, the universe, or anyone else out there who might be interested: Please help me bring Kyra home.
In desperation, never before a spiritualist, I called upon Greg’s mother. Grandma Bee died two weeks after Keenan’s birth. My mother-in-law and I had a close, if too brief, relationship. She often told me though she adored her sons, she had always longed for a daughter. Bee will understand, I thought. Who knows? Maybe she can help me from the after-world? I teased Greg that I now had his mom in my corner.
And so for months, as Greg waffled, I petitioned Bee to help bring her son around. Aidan and I gained courage whenever we encountered the Lil Sis car on the road. We cheered with excitement the day we passed a car with the plate: Kyra. Twenty months passed. I thought of Kyra constantly, and the idea that Greg might back out gnawed painfully at my stomach.
Finally, in August, the adoption facilitator called us. At the sound of his voice we each ran to grab an extension in a different room.
“You have a baby,” said Norman, speaking quickly. “In Jiang-xi province, 15 months old. Abandoned in cardboard box at 10 days old. Birth mother left note with birth date and time, June 19. Travel date is September 13th.”
I put down the phone and met Greg in the hallway. This was it. If he backed out now, could I ever forgive him? As he embraced me, my 6 foot, 210 –pound, lug of a husband was crying. I braced myself, certain he was about to hit me with the devastating news that he simply could not do it.
“What?” I said.
“Did you hear her birthday?”
“Yes, June 19th.”
“That was Mom’s birthday,” he said.
His surrender was complete. A month later, Kyra would be in our arms.
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