One Saturday morning a few weeks ago, Jonathan took Kai to gym practice and let me have a quiet house to myself. I turned on my latest Netflix obsession, Terrace House. If you don’t know what Terrace House is, you’re really missing out I tell you. It’s a Japanese Reality TV Show, but it’s an ACTUAL reality show, no scripts. Plus there are commentators which is amazing and gives such cultural insight. I love Japan, I love reality tv, this show is the best of both worlds.
Hunger set in, so I paused and went to the kitchen to grab a bite. I walked back into the living room and stopped in my tracks. I had hit pause in a random moment, and realized when I came back in and looked at the TV, it was paused exactly in a frame of Ebisu Station in Tokyo. A wave of emotion hit me.
Ebisu Station will forever be a significant place in my memory, and hold a significant place in the heart of our family. Six years ago today, we signed legal papers, had them notarized, and we officially became Kai’s legal guardians. After we signed those papers, I placed Kai in the ergo with me, his beautiful eyes staring up at me blankly, those little eyebrows in a crease, probably wondering who I was and what was happening. And then, we walked to Ebisu Station together, a family. He and I were looking at each other as Jonathan led us, and I whispered to him you’re safe.
It seems so simple-papers were signed, and we just went to the train station a family to go back to our hotel. And yet, it wasn’t simple at all. We still had a big hurdle to jump, getting his visa, actually traveling home, but even more than that, so much complexity was held in that simple moment. We were strangers who became family. So much was gained and lost for him in that simple yet significant moment.
I didn’t sleep at all that first night. Not one wink. I was too enthralled. I just kept staring at this beautiful baby boy with the most delicious rolls around his wrists, bald head, cheeks for days, and studied every inch of him. I tried to discern every cry, listened to every coo and gurgle, and smiled as he sucked heavily on that little thumb of his. I watched the rise and fall of his little chest as he breathed. And just stared in wonder. I thought about how much it took to get to this moment and was overwhelmed. I thought of his first mom and wondered where she was and if she was doing ok. All of a sudden, I was a mom. I was his mom. We had so much catching up to do. As much sweetness as there was that first night as a family, there was also stress for all three of us. I knew the road ahead of us was not an easy one, and I was certainly right about that.
The next day, we went back to Ebisu Station. We had to go back to that same area for a required doctor’s appointment in order to get his visa, held him up for a passport style photo, checked things off the list of more paperwork we needed before the most important appointment at the US Embassy. We got it all done, and walked back to Ebisu Station, him in the ergo, staring up at this new face who kept telling him she was his mama, but he didn’t understand yet.
Our train left Ebisu Station, and we went on our first family adventure together-the Ueno Zoo. Six years as a family now, and two of our first family adventures, the zoo and Disney, are still our favorite places for family adventures.
I can’t believe it’s been six years since that moment we became a family, and walked to Ebisu Station. It feels like yesterday and ages ago. It will never cease to amaze me how our stories intertwined, how people across the world from different countries and cultures grafted together. Today, we celebrate becoming a family, while also acknowledging that the most significant relationship in his life broke in order for ours to be built. A weight that is never lost on me.
Today, we celebrate YOU Kai. You have made our family brighter, significantly more fun, and absolutely adventurous. I tell you all the time because it’s true-being your mama is my FAVORITE. I love you with my whole heart. Adoption is the most inexplicable phenomenon, a love I just can’t put into words. Today, we’ll do all your favorite things-get an almond milk boba tea, climb trees, eat our weight in sushi, you’ll probably talk us into going to the Disney Store, and just enjoy being a family.
That walk to Ebisu Station will be one my body can never forget, because those were our first steps as Team Jordan.