Out the turquoise doors we passed, our daughter leaving one home to join another. Walk through these doors in the other direction and you enter Baby Bird’s first world, a children’s home, where she lived for the first year of her life, surrounded by the voices of nannies and other children just like her, children who–for any number of reasons–were not able to live with their birth families.
I will always be deeply grateful to the nannies who did their best to meet her needs. But to me, these walls also tell another story, one with limited opportunity, where there isn’t space to crawl and run and play, where there are no clothes or toys that were hers and hers alone. The children’s home was a place where even the most loving of nannies cannot meet the needs of a child in the way a family can.
I can only imagine what might have been going through her head as two virtual strangers removed her from the only home she had ever known, from familiar faces, smells and sounds. I often think about what she left behind when–three years later–on most mornings, we clink our glasses together as a family and say ‘Genatz,‘ cheers in Armenian. I think about the women who cared for her, her language and culture. But then I think about the other children we saw, some whose faces I will never forget, many of whom will spend all their growing years inside the walls our daughter left behind in the arms of her new family.
As we drove south, from Gyumri to Yerevan, Baby Bird looked out the window–eyes wide open–studying the new world surrounding her. Catch lights appeared in her eyes. Photographers love catch lights, which are created when a light source causes reflections in their subject’s eyes. They give the eyes depth, soul.
If you look into my daughter’s eyes, you will see something beautiful, something that will always be inside her, that she will never leave behind. You will see the land where my daughter was born. You will see Armenia.
Take the road less traveled, Beth