Sunday, February 17, 2008

A love letter

Thirty-two years ago today my life changed forever. And I didn't even know it for two weeks.

Today is my daughter's birthday. On March 3, the social worker with whom we'd been working to adopt a child called to tell us that we had a baby. And on March 5, she came home.

I answered the phone that day a little before noon as I was on my way to the bedroom to get dressed after taking a shower and preparing to go into the part-time job I had -- I may have had a robe on, but I actually think I was naked, because I remember dragging on some clothes while I talked first to the social worker, and then to my husband, and then I called my mother who was teaching school in Springfield, Missouri, and for the first time in my life I asked that she be called out of the classroom to take my call.

I know the rest of the day and the following one were a flurry of preparations, although we had a crib, bedding, some clothing, and so on. But there was formula to get, bottles and diapers to buy, a car seat, and just simply stopping to take in the whole amazing reality from time to time.

We saw our daughter the next day and held her, that little bundle of soft pink arms and legs and big eyes and reddish hair. I adored her from that moment. And they brought her to us the next day, after I'd been up most of the night mopping water seeping through the walls of the house we were renting -- the kitchen, a bedroom, bath, and den were in the walkout basement level of the house, and heavy rains had saturated the soil. Apparently there was a crack in the foundation walls, because water had soaked carpet and was running onto the tile floors. The landlord brought a wet-vac early the next morning, which helped.

We have always celebrated her birthday with a party and cake or special dinner, and 14 days later we celebrated her adoption day, with a special gift and often some special activity with one friend. And always on her birthday, I've said a gratitude prayer for her biological mother -- who she met about six or seven years ago in a lovely Christmas-time meeting with both families present.

There is a poem for adopted children that all adoptive parents should know. It's titled "The Answer."

Not flesh of my flesh
Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously
My own.
Never forget
For a single minute:
You didn't grow under my heart
But in it.

--Fleur Conkling Heyliger

You are still my heart, my dear daughter. You are the miracle of my life (you and finding the wonderful man I now share my life with). I wish for you all the miracles you seek, you hope for. I wish for you enough of everything, but especially love, honey. Especially that.

Happy birthday. And to Maryellen, who carried you for nine months and then gave you to me, thank you. Again. Always.

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