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Becoming a Father - China Adoption

An adoptive father shares his emotions upon becoming a father in this personal account of a China adoption.

By Rocky DeLorenzo

Somebody yells out, "I think they are coming," and everyone's attention converges on the entrance. A young Chinese woman called Ming confidently enters the rom. She has long black straight hair and wears a stylish unbuttoned brown coat with matching colored pants. My guess is she's a government worker or someone from the adoption department. She greats us with a curt nod.

The noise and commotion suddenly change to audible gasps when nine baby girls are carried in. After the initial shock wears off, the room comes alive. James and the two women begin discussing lat-minute details over the sound of babies crying. Susan and I stand there - speechless, holding each other tightly. Each girl is dressed up like a gift package, waiting to be handed out. All are bundled up in layers of mismatched clothing and colors; most are wearing little woolen hats. They're dressed this way because many of the orphanages are without heat. The main objective her is warmth - not fashion.

Susan and I try to guess which baby is ours but can't seem to pick her out. Everything is happening so fast. If emotions were electricity this room would be generating enough power to light up the city of Las Vegas. The excitement mounts when James announces, "Okay, here we start, according to the list…" The List - that means Susan and I are second!

We watch in awe as couple number one is handed their new baby daughter. I am so overwhelmed at this point that nothing seems real. We anxiously walk up toward the group of workers. I hear Ming repeatedly calling out, 'Yi, Qian Qian, Yi, Qian Qian." All the helpers are reading the name tags on the infants, searching for ours. A young man works his way through the crowds and stands before us - in his arms is a very scared and confused baby girl. She's wearing a multicolored coat with a 101 Dalmatians theme. A pink hood sticks out from underneath it. Covering her legs is a pair of dreadful-looking maroon leg warmers, with something resembling a diaper sticking out from behind. Her fact is expressionless - a blank, distant stare is all that remains. This unfortunate baby is empty inside, deprived of the love and attention she so desperately needs. What little hair she has is matted down from sweating, her eyes and checks are red and swollen from crying, and her nose is dirty. But to me, she's the most beautiful baby in the world. I'm mesmerized, just staring at our daughter. He carefully walks up to Susan and places the baby girl in her arms - our new daughter, Shelby-Li. At that precise moment - I become a father.

It's hard to put into the words the feelings and emotions I'm experiencing. Eight years of trying to start a family finally becomes a reality for Susan and me; eleven months of surviving in a orphanage comes to an end for Shelby-Li - a match made in heaven. The painful memories of our infertility fade away. Amazingly, we don't shed a single tear. Why? I have no idea. Maybe our minds are racing too fast for our emotions to catch up. Or maybe there are just no more tears left.

We take our daughter over to a corner of the room where we pose for our first family pictures Shelby-Li begins to cry. Her tiny head rolls back and forth, staring at Susan and me with a look of confusion in her eyes that seems to say, "What's happening here? Who are these people?" Our daughter is crying, and we're there for her. If only we could communicate what's happening and how much we love her.

I kiss her forehead, and my eyes begin to tear from a combination of the love I have for her in my heart, the tremendous joy I feel at finally becoming a father, and a response to the fact that she probably hasn't had a bath in days. Boy, is she a ripe one!

We take turns holding Shelby-Li; she clutches our sleeves in both hands in a iron grip. This poor baby has already been abandoned four times in her short lifetime and in her own way is pleading, "Please, don't you abandon me too." She'll never have to worry about that - ever. Shelby-Li has a permanent home now.

Susan is looking at me with this huge grin on her face - a grin that just may be permanent. We're both extremely exhausted and ready to turn in for the night. Getting ready for bed, I notice Susan leaning over the crib, starring at Shelby-Li. "It doesn't matter anymore if we could have one of our own," she says softly. "I just love her so much." It is the long awaited answer to "Did I do right by Susan when I pushed so hard for adoption?" My wife is ecstatic, to say the least. I have my old Susan back. I don't know if I'm happier because I'm a father or because Susan is a mother. The important thing is that we are family now.

Rocky DeLorenzo is the author of Infertilty to Family: One Man's Story, a poignant account of his family's struggle with infertility and journey to international adoption. This passage is excerpted from the book, with his permission.

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