“What is that?” I asked. The sky had suddenly darkened where moments before it had been clear and sunny, with bright blue, mostly cloudless skies.
“I think it’s dust,” Rachel said from the backseat of our small SUV.
My husband Michael, who was driving, said, “There’s lots of construction going on nearby. Maybe the wind has picked up dust from that."
We were in the cloud now and the particles were sticking to our front windshield making it difficult to see. “You know,” I said. “I think it’s an eruption. A volcano has erupted. This is an ash cloud.”
Michael looked at me, “Don’t be dramatic. It’s simply a dust storm.”
We had just driven out of the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Alajuela, Costa Rica on our way to Uvita, on the Pacific Coast for the wedding that weekend of our friend Sara. Heading south out of the mountains, we eventually left the cloud behind. We crossed the crocodile bridge (a bridge over a river where lots of crocodiles live and people stop to see them), passed the resort town of Jaco, and enjoyed views of the Pacific Coast until the sun set. We learned that the people we were meeting were actually an hour behind us, so we stopped in the town of Quepos for dinner. We chose the Best Western because the restaurant was on the second floor and overlooked the street where our car was parked with all of our luggage. We passed some prostitutes (legal in Costa Rica) as we went up for dinner.
As we sat down to our meal, I logged onto the hotel's Wi-Fi system in order to check my messages. Normally on a trip I don't use my phone, but we wanted to stay in contact with the states in case there were any developments with the baby.
The message that popped up was from our private adoption agency, which was not involved with the baby in Kansas. Strange, I thought, and clicked on it. They were happy to announce that a birth mom in Iowa had chosen us for her daughter, could we be there the next morning to take her home? I blanched and quietly passed the phone to Michael, who read the message and then looked up stunned, "What do we do?"
"I don't know. We obviously can't get back to Iowa tomorrow." Suddenly the random dinner conversation turned to a serious set of questions about what we could do and what this meant. I tried calling the agency, but didn't have a signal. So I replied by e-mail that we were in Costa Rica and there was no way we could be in Iowa the next morning.
Soon, Sara and others in her party arrived. We informed them of the situation. Sara said, "Well, you definitely couldn't get a flight out tomorrow, because the airport is closed. Did you see the eruption?"
That night we made it to our rental house where we and many in the wedding party were staying for the weekend. It was a comfortable home with a great pool, nestled on a jungle hillside, with a gorgeous view of the coast and a natural phenomenon of sand bar isthmus and islands called "The Whale's Tail." The steep dirt road up to the house was somewhat treacherous. Getting our SUV up the mountain had required us getting out of the car and walking, in the dark, in the jungle. I had enjoyed it as an adventure--the rest of our party not so much. Fortunately we never had to do that again, as we never had luggage in the car again, except for when we were pointed down.
The next morning we went for breakfast at a fun little empanada place. I logged onto their wi-fi and there were two important e-mails. The first was from our lawyer in Kansas; he had met with birth mom and dad and gone over things and was ready to send us our copies of documents to review and sign, except that first he needed the baby's name. Suddenly we had moved into the territory of it being official. We were thrilled.
The other e-mail was from the adoption agency--the mom in Iowa would probably pick someone else then, since we couldn't make it today. When could we make it though?
Michael and I tried calling the agency. We did get a signal and were able to leave a voicemail. We informed them that we would be unable to depart Costa Rica before our scheduled flight, as currently the airport was closed due to a volcanic eruption. We had waited so long to get a call that there was a baby, but it looked like this one was simply not going to work out. If we had been in Omaha, that very day we could have been dads.
We had to finalize a name. For years we had discussed our favourites, and had narrowed down to a few options, hoping to wait and give a final name to the baby when we saw him. We quickly made our choice--Sebastian Briston Cich--e-mailed the lawyer, and then celebrated with our friends.
That day we spent on the lovely Playa Ballena, having the beach almost completely to ourselves. We ran and played and swam and did yoga and sunbathed and had the most glorious time. The whole day there was an emotional undercurrent as we made peace with the fact that things would not work out with the baby in Iowa as well.
When we left the beach and sat down to dinner, the e-mail came--the mom in Iowa will wait for you to return from Costa Rica. "It's raining babies," our friends said.