They hadn’t told us there was no passport photographer in the embassy. We only found out that Monday afternoon, when we tried to get in line there, in order to have our small mountain of adoption paperwork finally approved so that we could bring our new adopted son home to Texas with us.
But no, now we had to search for a passport photographer. Luckily, that didn’t take long because several such photographers were parked in vans in the backstreets around the embassy building. We handed little Nick to one of them, he took three photos and handed the baby back. We waited a few minutes, then walked back to the embassy with our Polaroids.
By that time the long line had grown longer, filled with couples and the babies they were trying to adopt. Several more lined up behind us, too, however, as the clock ticked on toward 5 p.m., we were the last couple to have our papers processed. We were happy and relieved. This long adoption ordeal was coming to a close after all this time, and tomorrow we’d fly back to the United States and baby Nick would see his new home.
Or so we thought.
We were up early the next morning, packing up, double-checking our plane tickets, ready to grab a cab to the airport. Then the phone rang. My father-in-law from back in Texas. Turn on the TV, he said. And there was the plane, flying in slow motion through one of the World Trade Center towers and into the permanent memory banks of my brain.
Sept. 11, 2001, in Guatemala City. No, we soon learned, there’d be no flight. America was closed.