“Congratulations, you have a daughter in China!”
I cried hearing those precious words from our adoption agency worker.
I will never forget the cocktail of emotions I felt after that phone call. Shock that all of our paperwork actually went through and was approved by both the U.S. government and the People’s Republic of China. Elation that she was ours. Fear of all the unknown. Humbled and thankful to finally be at this part of the process. To be her mother.
And then the overwhelm set in. Oh gosh, what now?! Besides the new stack of more paperwork, there was packing and planning to be done- we were actually going to get our daughter in China!
Our agency told us that it would be around 3 months before we could leave to meet her and bring her home, as official paperwork needed to process and other preparations were to be made. My heart tinged with sadness as I realized that our daughter would be spending her second birthday in the orphanage. We wouldn’t be there for three more months. How was she to know that there was a family on the other side of the world, so excited to meet her and bring her home?
All the time, I found myself thinking about what it might be like for the daughter we had yet to meet. Being told you have a family but having no concept of what a family is…watching your entire world transition but not fully understanding why. And then that inevitable day when two strangers come to hold you and speak to you in words you don’t understand. Gosh. It was going to get harder before it got better.
I was so desperate to connect with our new daughter- to make this transition better in any way I could. Our agency suggested sending a care package to her, and I jumped at the chance. I knew that anything I might send such as blankets, toys, or clothing might be shared with other children in the orphanage (which was fine with me- the need is so great), but I knew one thing I must include in the package- a photo book.
Being a professional photographer, I have many resources to high-quality printers and album companies, but for this photo book, I needed something that was appropriate for tiny toddler fingers, not a bride and groom. So, I scoured the internet looking for something durable and kid-friendly.
Pinhole Press’s Board Book was perfect. The size and rounded edges were ideal for her tiny toddler fingers. The pages were thick and glossy and would be protected from any nibbles or bottle spill. The pre-made templates on their website were so easy to customize with our names and photos. I included photos of each member of our family with our names on the corresponding page. The dogs even got their own pages, as did a few photos of our home. I wanted her to be familiar with as much as possible when she finally arrived home.
Once we received the book in the mail, I was so pleased with the result. The print quality was excellent and the colors were bright and beautiful. I mailed it to China a few days later.
I am so thankful I had this tool to connect with our daughter before ever meeting her. International adoption is a challenging but worthy process and little things like this make it so much personal and sweet. I love that our Lucy will get to keep this book as a part of her story, and I’m confident that before we ever spoke the same language, she knew me and I knew her.
Lissa Anglin is a professional photographer, educator, and artist living in tumbleweed territory – West Texas. She is frequently running late to something with her husband, 3 kids, and a coffee, but loving this wild and crazy life all the same and documents it on her blog Part of Me.