“A hundred years from now it won’t matter what your bank account was or the sort of house you lived in or the kind of car you drove, but the world may be different because you were important in the life of a child.”
Ann Townsend is about to become a mother for the second time. Anxiety and excitement build inside her as she waits. Her hands continuously clasp, tighter and faster, in her lap. Now, the pacing begins. The tension in her face is sporadically broken with nervous grins. Her warm eyes are filled with anticipation.
Ann is waiting for 3-year old Alex to arrive from Guatemala. The Portland International Jetport is Ann’s hospital; the Delta terminal is her delivery room. Strangers silently wait to pick up other passengers from the plane, unaware that they are about to witness a birth.
The plane lands late. “There they are,” Ann says with maternal certainty, as she darts to a tall, thin woman accompanying a wide-eyed toddler hauling a purple dinosaur almost as big as himself. Ann exchanges words with the woman and kneels to the dark-haired boy, who offers her a gentle smile. Ann hugs Alex as if she has been his mother her whole life.
Betsy Bewsey, the Maine Adoption Placement Service (MAPS) director for the Guatemala program, escorted Alex to the Portland International Jetport on October 18, 2002 and Ann became a mother for the second time. She waited a year for this adoption after walking in to the Bangor office of MAPS, which carries out the referrals of children and families when there is a match.
Ann always wanted to adopt and believes that fate is the reason for Alex and Matt – adopted from Romania also at the age of three – coming in to her life. “I knew I was gonna, I just didn’t know when. It’s amazing to me. Then just one day I was walking by MAPS and I said I got to go in there. There’s a time and place. I think when you’re older you have more patience; financially you can handle it. If I was younger, I’d take an infant, but I’m 54.”
Ann worried about the language barrier with Alex upon his arrival at the airport, just as she did with Matt. “There’s no way to communicate before, there’s no way to tell him you’re going to be alright, you know? You couldn’t ever tell him you loved him.” Plenty of hugs and smiles now come from Alex and Matt, an evident part in Ann’s personality and a sign of her loving mothering.
Ann found out from MAPS that, “Alex, his mother earned 50 cents to a dollar a day… domestic worker. She couldn’t afford to feed him anymore. I can’t imagine what his mother had to go through to give him up. You just can’t judge. She might’ve done the best thing that’s the greatest gift that she could ever give you. MAPS had a picture of her and she is as thin as a human being can be. So you know she went without food, I guess, to feed him. But that’s the only picture he’ll have of his mother. It’s this grainy picture of her.” Though Alex will always have this photo of his biological mother, Ann will now forever be the woman who actually mothers him. She will teach, discipline, and nurture him, watch him grow into a man – all the while loving him unconditionally as any mother would.
Adoption is as intimate and personal as witnessing a birth. However, when adopting, more people can participate in celebrating that single moment when a child enters a person’s life and makes him or her a parent forever.
Ann says the Townsend family is now complete with Alex’s arrival. Adoption has allowed her to create an exceptional family for she and the boys. Four dogs, four cats and six birds comprise the rest of the Townsends. Ann loves and nurtures them all with a maternal instinct and an enduring devotion. She proclaims, “Puppies, dogs and kids are in our hands, their lives are dependent. They’re precious to me, that’s all there is to it.”