This time last June, Kevin and I were sitting in the airport panicked. Several of the flights we’d booked were canceled or delayed. We didn’t know we’d make it to the hospital in time. The girl who would enter our family as a daughter was soon to be born. Though we arrived in the middle of the night, we made it with time to spare. And when a little girl came fighting her way into the world our lives were forever changed by the word “adoption.” She’d soon be placed in my arms (and later Kevin’s too) and we’d be asked to feed her that night and every night in all the days to come. And we’d begin the journey of loving her more than we ever thought was possible.
And here’s the thing about adoption. It’s an experience that’s impossible to describe unless you’ve walked in its shoes. It comes with complicated feelings. It comes with questions that often can’t be answered.
One friend of mine and fellow adoptive mom summed it up well: “Adoption is full of sharp edges.”
For when Kevin and I think of the magnitude of this gift given to us, our hearts overflow with intense gratitude. We love our baby girl so much. We couldn’t think of a more perfect addition to our family.
Yet, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s the edge of pain. We know that our girl will grow up and put the stories of her life together with loss too. She’ll have to wrestle with her identity and place in this world. It’s a sharp reality too that I wish weren’t so.
But (and it is a huge BUT), in the meantime our girl is just like any other kid.
Every day is an opportunity to be with her, guide her and parent with love.
In the past year, she’s learned to sit up, crawl, eat solid foods, ride on an airplane with ease (because her parents are crazy nomads) and most recently walk like a little girl determined to be a big part of any room she’s in.
She’s learned to love music and toys that make noise. Recently she’s found a lot of joy out of throwing a ball and playing with her mom’s hair. She knows that her father is the one that will rock her extra long if she’s not in the mood to go to sleep. And if you want to see her smile, give her a bath. The excitement of being in water makes her giggle and giggle some more.
And on this night, she’s a girl whose about to turn one year old – sleeping peacefully in her crib.
So with all of this true, what bugs me about the traditional label of adoption is that it’s what our culture often elevates it to THE story about a child or about their family. Assumptions are made that are not necessarily true. And people forget that day-to-day life goes on. In our case, day-to-day life this year has been a lot of washing bottles and changing diapers and snuggles in the middle of the night.
In a thousand ways every day, Kevin and I get to wrestle with the privilege and normal challenges that come with parenthood.
I also want to tell you this: I know I will always be protective of our girl. I will roar like a mamma bear when anyone tries to make her feel less than. Because she’s awesome. Really, really awesome! And I am glad I get a front row seat to her life.
I know I will want to always remind others that while baby girl came to our family in way that is unique, she is still just a girl who needs to connect, to feel loved, and to feel valued.
If anyone asks her who she is, I pray she learns to answer by saying, “I’m a beloved a child of God.”
She’s also a Hagan. And the Hagan family together has had a great year!