Many mothers will tell you that the most important day of their life was the day their child was born.
Yes, my daughter's birth date is hugely significant—without it, I obviously would not be her mother.
Yet my absence on the day she was born designates it to second place behind the day that I met her and the day after that day, when the magistrate signed the papers finalizing our adoption of her.
I think of those two days often—the photo capturing the moment sits on my bureau, putting a smile on my face and in my heart every morning when I open my eyes.
I remember the morning of September 29, 2009 with such clarity—how the girl who usually hugs the bed couldn't sleep and was up, showered, dressed, and paced the floor two hours before the bed-and-breakfast we were staying at was ready to feed us.
I remember the nervous anticipation I had never felt before in my life. My stomach doing cartwheels and my inability to hold my body still a new experience for me.
I recall the social worker picking us up and sitting in her car for the almost two-hour drive to the baby house where we would meet our new daughter. She and my husband chattered away in the front seat, but I couldn't concentrate, my mind was full of questions and worries. Would my new child be afraid of us? Would she cry? Would she smile? Would she even let us hold her?
I tried to be sympathetic to what our child was about to experience. I hoped I could be sensitive to her fear and confusion that two strangers who looked nothing like her suddenly wanted to hold her, kiss her, and talk to her in a language she only heard occasionally. Our arrival into her life would be yet another monumental change in her eighteen months of monumental changes, and it broke my heart to think of how she would be feeling about us initially, in sharp contrast to all the joy, love, and excitement we were already feeling about her.
I remember seeing the sign for the baby house and turning off the street onto a dirt road through a grove of lemons and oranges. The two-minute drive to the house of the Director lasted that proverbial eternity.
Then, a clearing with a house and a large porch, with the Director holding what looked like a little bear, only because the little girl in her arms was wearing a brown coat with ears and a tail on it, fashioned to look like a teddy.
Our tiny daughter turned her head to observe our approaching car.
I was lost.
I knew from the pictures we had received that she was gorgeous, but I hadn't expected those eyes. Her eyes were so deeply dark that even she cannot discern her own pupils from her iris and often tells me she has no pupil. The moment I looked at them, I knew she was a force. A fighter. A brilliant observer and analyzer, with the teeny spark that showed then that she would also be a lover of merriment.
Despite coaching myself all the way there not to, I burst into tears. The tears my daughter still calls "love bubbles," because that's how I described them to her when she asked me why I was sad to meet her. They weren't sad tears, but all the love and joy of meeting her was too overwhelming for my heart to hold and it came bubbling out of my eyes in love bubbles.
I approached her with shaking hands and legs, hoping they wouldn't give out. The raw emotion of knowing that after ten years of trying, I was finally a mother, pounded in my head. I had been gifted the privilege of mothering this astounding little soul staring at me and soaking up every detail.
I held out my arms, and despite my snot-cry face, she opened her arms to me and came willingly.
That is where the story of our first meeting really ends . . . with the beginning. The beginning of a love that I never fathomed could exist before I met her, a love that detonated inside of me that moment.
Today we celebrate the five year anniversary of that meeting—the day I held my most precious connection for the first time. The moment I learned, at the age of 39, what real love is. The moment I felt that the journey to that point had finally been worth it all.
I love you to infinity and back, infinity times, my darling Baby Girl. Happy Adoption Family Day. I can't wait to discover the next five years and longer of adventures as your mama.
Do you remember your first meeting with your child? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I love reading other first meeting stories!
Thanks for reading my blog! If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out this story about my encounter with a stranger's opinion about international adoption, or you may also like to read about one woman's misinterpretation of why we adopted our daughter.