“Adoption” means many things to many people. Two years ago today, I couldn’t imagine how my world would change, how the power of one word could and would transform everything. Tomorrow isn’t Beauty’s birthday; it’s not her “A-Day” in either Guatemala or the U.S. But it is one of the most special days of the year for me. Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of the day I met my daughter for the first time.
I just finished baking her homecoming anniversary cake. It’s pink, since that’s her favorite color, with chocolate frosting and tons of sprinkles (she’s a girl who loves her sprinkles, let me tell you). And I’m blissfully happy. I’ve been flipping through photo albums–all the pics we received while in wait, the insane amount I took when she finally arrived home, the professional shots taken by our photographer/friend at O’Hare Airport. Two years ago today, adoption was still as somewhat abstract concept for me. I mean, sure, my husband adopted our son, but I didn’t have that experience. Sure, I was involved with getting Beauty home–completed all the paperwork, fielded most agency calls, asked the never-ending questions, and so on–I mean, I was intricately invested in the whole procedure. But I didn’t know adoption. And in many ways, I still don’t. I don’t think it’s possible to say, “A-ha! I know all the secrets! I know all the ins and outs!” Instead, I think it’s a lifelong process that will unfold as Beauty grows day-by-day. There will be beautiful moments, there will be painful moments, but the moments will be spent together as she understands how adoption relates to her life, her sense of self, and I walk beside her on that journey.
Every day I learn a bit more about what adoption means to me, what it means to our family, what it means in regard to my parenting of both my children. Every day, I watch Beauty learn something new or master a new skill, and it feels bittersweet, knowing that I’m the one watching while M., her birth mom, is not. But every day I’m more appreciative of what M. has sacrificed for what she believed would be the good of her daughter. Every day she inspires me to be a better mom, all without having ever met her. And every kiss and hug from Beauty (and there are plenty–she’s a snuggler!) makes me realize that I don’t remember my life without her and I don’t ever want to try.
Two years ago, I stayed up all night even though I tried so hard to sleep. I then cleaned the house frantically, even though I’d done so a few days prior. I shopped for baby items, I washed all her clothes, her blankets. I spent the day with Bear talking about Beauty and enjoying our last hours of his “only child” life. And then suddenly, I was at the airport. And then I was on the phone. And then my husband placed our daughter in my arms and I wept uncontrollable tears as people flooded past. Time had stopped for me; a piece of my heart, one that I hadn’t even known was missing, fit into place.
Adoptive parenting has meant many things to me over the past almost-two years. Above all, however, it means the blessing of and opportunity to share my life with an amazing little girl who I love beyond words.
Photo Credit: 2009. Courtney O. (Happy 2nd Homecoming Anniversary, Beauty!)