The 747 lumbered toward the runway at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. The preceding plane did not exit the runway quickly enough, however, and the Air India flight had to “go around,” as the air traffic controllers say. We waited another 20 minutes to see our daughter.
Jael Neisha arrived at 2½ months of age. She weighed 5 pounds when she was born in Calcutta. But for no discernible reason she began to waste away in the Indian orphanage. When Jael finally emerged from the U.S. Customs arrival gate, her wrinkled face was covered with sweat. She was quite sick.
Cathy and I gingerly placed our daughter in the infant seat of our 1978 Ford Fiesta and drove to our doctor’s office on Long Island. He later became one of my best friends and confided that when he first saw Jael, he had not expected her to live.
Jael did not sit up until she was 8 months old, and said few words until she was almost 3. Grade school was difficult. But an old pediatrician told us he had seen children like Jael before. “By the time she gets in her 20s,” he said, “she will be all caught up.” And she was.
Jael is married now, living near Phoenix with her husband and their new daughter, Trista Neisha James.
After Jael’s arrival, I worked part-time in the adoption field, doing home studies and post-placement supervision. I saw scores of wonderful adoptions, as well as a number of difficult placements. Adoption is not perfect. No matter how nicely you put it, a child is surrendered, and in some ways neither the child nor the parent ever gets over that.
Though adoption is not perfect, it is good. Deeply good. Adoption is a decision to love without conditions. As the child comes of age, he or she must also choose to love. That too is never easy.
This week we tell three wonderful stories about churches deeply involved in foster care and adoption. Hopefully the stories will motivate you to make a difference in the lives of orphans. Who knows, maybe some day you too will hold your granddaughter in your arms, as her mother beams with pride. And you will remember the day you first held your daughter in your arms, while everyone in a busy airport terminal stopped to watch a family being born.
Cathy and I have been there, and it is worth the ride.