Today is Wednesday, June 1. It’s a big anniversary in our family– in a month of big anniversaries. This is the 10th anniversary of my partner’s and my very early morning flight to Texas to meet our daughter for the first time. It is the anniversary of falling in love and becoming parents.
I remember many things in great detail. I remember much more than I will write here but I remember one last trip down our hall that morning, to grab one last thing before we left for the airport. I bumped into my partner and started to cry. I said, “I’m scared. This is the biggest (and in fact the only) blind date of my life.” I said, “I’ve loved my life with you, just as it is, just the two of us.” It was one of a few times in my purposeful and long march to parenthood that I felt scared about becoming a parent.
I remember landing in El Paso, both of us suddenly starving after getting up so early and being too nervous to eat– and I remember our hungry, delicious, lunchtime meal in a small hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant at the airport in El Paso– not in the cool, clean air-conditioned corridors of the airport, but a restaurant on the grounds of the airport– where baggage handlers and mechanics came to eat their lunch.
I remember pulling up into the driveway and then walking through the door of my daughter’s foster mom’s home which is where we met and adopted our daughter. I remember Stephanie, her foster mom, standing holding her in the doorway, talking, talking to her. I remember my daughter’s alert and watching face. She knew something important was happening and she paid close attention. And I remember looking at her and taking her in my arms and all the relief and love and certainty that I felt.
I wrote about one important part of that first meeting in Saying Goodbye. I wrote and I wanted to write more– about that fact that adoption day was a joyous day for us, but it was a very, very hard day for my daughter and is hard for many, if not most, children who are adopted and who leave behind everything to start lives with new families.
In the year after our first June 1 (2001) and for years after on this day, we used to talk about the day and wake up nostalgic and happy and play a wonderful John McCutcheon song called “Happy Adoption Day” to my daughter. But recently she has let us know that she has different feelings than we do about the feel of that day. It was so, so good she came home to us; it was and is good we are her parents; it is good we are exactly the family we are. I have absolutely no doubt about that. But it was, in fact, a very hard day for her even though it led to good things. Not long ago I recited, as best I could remember, my piece called Saying Goodbye to her– while I was driving and she rode in the back seat and I looked back and there were tears running down her face.
So this year the night before our Adoption Day anniversary, I asked what she wanted to do. I got up early with her and we played– Barbies, and watched an old Get Smart episode together. We worked together to finish up her Pablo Picasso puppet for a school project.
She dressed her 10-year-old self in new clothes; gifts from one of her Aunts for her birthday. And I pulled out the clothes she was wearing when we met 10 years ago, and laid them on the sofa for us all to look at and smile over. As it goes, the adults in the family–my partner and I– with our eyes on her and our minds also disbelieving that that past is over, cannot fully comprehend how our tiny baby stands before us, so big and grown. But her mind is mostly on the coming day and the weeks and months and years ahead as she gathers her things and heads to school.
So, I love you, N.
Your Mommy and I had very good lives together before you came along. And yet life is completely better, funner, funnier, more interesting and just better, deeper, richer and more lively and hopeful– since you came along.