It was early January of 1990. My wife and I were on a flight bound for Lima, Peru, to adopt our daughter. She was about three months old. We had only seen pictures from the adoption agency. It was three in the morning as the plane descended into Lima. We could see that half of the city was blacked out. As we got closer to the ground, we could see fires throughout the city. Lima, a city close to the size of New York, then and now has only a volunteer fire department. The volunteer crews were no match for the “Shining Path,” a Communist insurgency group that had opened an all-out offensive in Lima a few days before our arrival. We were flying into a war zone.
The airport was chaos. The friends of friends of friends in the States thankfully met us, and they managed to get us to our small Peruvian hotel. We had been told to stay away from American hotels or businesses, like the Hilton and the Marriott, since they were being targeted by the Shining Path.
After a few hours of sleep, our interpreter from the adoption agency picked us up and drove us to meet our daughter, who was being cared for by foster parents. I still remember when they placed her in our arms. It was a feeling, despite all the craziness going on around us, that everything would be okay. And as any new father would say, she was the cutest little thing I’d ever seen.
We had started this process only a few months before. We had been told that at least one of us would have stay in Peru through the entire adoption process which could take up to 4 months. My wife had decided that she would be the one.
I would stay for a few weeks, then go back to the States to work in my practice for a few weeks and then return. The process thankfully only took about 2 months. My wife and daughter finally arrived in the U.S. in March. Those two months in Peru were, to say the least, challenging. We learned a great deal about ourselves through those challenges.
We did not return to Peru for 24 years. Although we had offered a number of times, our daughter had not been ready. On our second trip back, we would visit old friends we had made the first time and managed to maintain contact with over the years. Our daughter would meet her biological mother and a number of other family members. The main goal of the second trip was to help her learn more about her heritage and continue the process most adopted children go through, of figuring out where she came from and who she is.
This is one of four blogs that will tell the story of our first and our second visit to Peru.