I stare at my phone and then back at Jonathan.
“What?!” Jonathan says hoarsely, rocking Maggie protectively. “Is there something wrong with the adoption?”
“No,” I reassure him. “It’s not that.” The enormity of Haji’s proposal leaves me speechless.
I realize I’m holding my phone loosely by my side and now raise it back up to my ear. I can hear Haji continuing.
“I am here at the airport with Jaibi and Mama Emma now. We’ll meet you in concourse A.”
Through the large windows, I see the threesome getting out of a taxi. With a bewildered expression, Jonathan turns to see who I’m waving at.
Our small group sits together in a small arrangement of orange plastic chairs. I watch an army of fans lazily turn the stale air the length of the concourse. We had arrived at the airport hours and hours before our flight, but time seems to be speeding up now. Haji has gone over the details, but the more he tries to elucidate things, the more confused I become. According to him, it will be easy to walk on that plane and whisk two children back to our home, disappearing from Kenya and all the government oversight.
I pull my chair closer to Haji’s and whisper. “Even if the Registrar-General disregarded every adoption law his country has, we still don’t have an immigration visa for Jaibi.” I put a hand to my chest, touching the hidden pouch that hangs around my neck and under my shirt. In it are some of our most important documents including the visa for our new little girl. Considering the time and red tape we’ve gone through to get it, it has become a prized possession.
Haji whispers back. “The American consulate is standing by, ready to issue an immigration visa as soon as you make your decision. We can have it here by courier in fifteen minutes. The Registrar-General is calling in some favors.”
None of this feels like the peace I felt when Amina was placed in my arms.
Jaibi is a charmer. When Haji handed him over to me when they first arrived at the airport, the boy had smiled good-naturedly and grabbed for my necklace. I slipped it off my neck and put it around his. He kissed my cheek and wriggled off my lap. He had shown off his new bling to Haji and Mama Emma and even Jonathan before toddling back to me. He awkwardly tried to put the necklace back over my head and then had contentedly settled back into my arms like he was the king of the world, swinging his muscular little legs back and forth where they dangled from my lap. This one will be easy to love, I had thought.
Amina shifts in my arms and yawns in her sleep. I gaze down the long hallway and watch Jaibi with Mama Emma as he ambles between groups of waiting passengers. He is endearing himself to them all. Jonathan and I deserve to have a boy like this in our lives. We can give him a wonderful life. We may be rookie parents, but we are good people. We can figure it out.
I think back to the partnership I have felt with my husband over the last few months as we have tended Amina and figured out the rhythm of our new family. In as little as twelve weeks, we had already incorporated a whole new life into our family. And now it feels like she had always been there. Could we add one more?
I try to persuade myself that if the people in charge of the laws don’t choose to follow them, that it’s okay. The people who make the rules are allowed to bend the rules if they need bending. They know best. Certainly they would know if a situation warranted fudging things a bit. I want to justify bringing Jaibi home.
Haji looks at his watch and stretches. He looks pointedly at Jonathan and then at me. “Time is running out. You two need to make a decision now. I’ll stretch my legs. By the time I return, we need an answer.” Haji strides away toward Mama Emma and Jaibi. It’s impossible for me to tear my eyes away from them.
Jonathan puts an arm around my shoulders and whispers in my ear. “This is illegal. We can’t jeopardize bringing Amina home. We’ve worked so hard and she’s ours. I don’t know what Haji is doing. He knows the consequences. We have to say no.”
I start to cry. Am I greedy? I don’t want to feel greedy for wanting two children. I look at Amina, finally asleep in my arms and a warmth rises up from my chest that feels like it’s choking me. I didn’t know love could physically feel like this. I know Amina is enough and yet I still want more. Why can’t I have Jaibi too?
Jonathan stands and grabs my hand, pulling me and Amina to our feet. “We have to go. I can’t believe we’ve even been considering this.” Jonathan gathers our suitcases and hurriedly hands a carry-on to me. I sling it over my shoulder while trying not to jar Amina too much. Jonathan heads for the security station, but I am rooted to the spot watching Jaibi play with Mama Emma down the corridor. From twenty feet ahead of me, Jonathan gently calls my name and I force myself to move forward. The line for security is mercifully short. I’m a mess; my nose is running and I’m forced to wipe it on my sleeve. I’m sweating and crying so hard, I’m leaving salty rivulets down my cheeks. I’m sure the security officers must think I’m crazy. I take deep breaths and try to focus on our amazing baby girl. I will myself to pull it together.
As we finally gather all our gear on the other side of security, Jonathan grabs my hand. He points back down the hallway to where Haji stands watching us. Two uniformed men approach Haji. The taller one taps him on the shoulder while the other stands a few feet back, his hand resting lightly on a handgun hanging from a holster on his belt.
Check back tomorrow to see what happens!