September 28th and 29th, 2009. The two most important dates of my life. September 28 marks the anniversary of the day I became a mother. After 10 years of trying, waiting, crying and giving up hope, I held a small 18 month old baby girl in my arms who would soon say the most precious word I had longed to hear: “Mommy”.
I didn’t plan on posting pictures to my blog, but the moment I first held my daughter was captured so exquisitely by my husband with our camera that I can’t help but share it.
September 28th was the day when all my hopes and dreams came true. After years of fertility treatments with 2 different husbands, a shocking surprise pregnancy that nobody believed would happen and the subsequent loss of that pregnancy, a trip to Europe to use somebody else’s egg and sperm to attempt to conceive (with no success) finally left me destined to accept the fact that I would never become pregnant, never feel a baby move inside of me, never hold a baby I had just given birth to. I was lost.
It took me a year to search my soul for the acceptance of these things and to find the realization that what I REALLY wanted was to be a mommy, not to be pregnant (in fact, hearing other women talk about pregnancy and birth makes me pretty damned happy sometimes that I DIDN’T get pregnant!). So, we began our adoption journey.
I was at work and had just returned from a meeting when I got the call from our Adoption Practioner. He told me about a 17 month old girl that was available for adoption and while we spoke, an email picture popped up on my computer:
I was a goner. Who could resist that smile? So began the 5 week frenzy to do everything we needed to do to travel halfway across the world (3 flights and 48 hours of travel, but who was counting??) to meet this precious little gift and bring her home to join our family.
On September 28, the South African social worker picked us up at 8am to drive almost 2 hours to the baby house where our daughter was located. I don’t think words would adequately describe my feelings or thoughts that morning, so I won’t even try. The VERY long driveway (through a grove of orange and lemon trees) to the home of the Director of the baby house was eternal. As we pulled out of the grove of trees, we saw her standing on her porch holding the most exquisite little creature I had ever seen, dressed in a little brown coat with ears on the hood. I think I waited for the car to stop, but I remember thinking as I approached that porch that my hands and legs were shaking so badly that I was afraid I would drop her.
That little face, those dark little eyes – they drank us in with curiosity and no smile, but no fear. She came to me immediately when I held out my arms, despite the fact that I was already crying beyond belief. I often wonder what must have been going through her mind at that moment and she has confessed to me that she was “worried” because I was crying and sad. I have explained to her countless times that they were tears of JOY, but she didn’t understand until I explained that I had SO much love in my heart at that moment for her that the love bubbled up and out of my eyes. She loved that explanation and often asks me during moments of love and happiness, if my eyes are going to have “love bubbles” coming out.
My life began that day. Everything before that was just filler. Everything I ever wanted in life was there in my arms. Yet somehow, so much more than I anticipated. I never expected motherhood to be such a ride.
September 29 was somewhat denoument in comparison, yet just as important in impact. We again made the 2 hour journey from where we were staying to the “courthouse” where a Magistrate would review our documents and hopefully sign his signature declaring us the legal parents of this Sweet Angel.
Some tense moments in the office of that Magistrate made me VERY nervous – like when he noted that I did not have my husband’s surname (seems women in South Africa haven’t taken up this “Feminist” practice!) or when he noticed that our daughter would have MY surname, instead of my husband’s. Me not having my husband’s name was bad enough, but our child as well??? He stopped in his tracks, looked my husband in the eye and asked “Are you SURE you’re ok with this?”. Thankfully his willingness to approve us as parents was not based on his respect for my husband’s ability to be the King of his Castle!
So here we are 3 years later. We celebrate BOTH dates, as both are significant to our family. We reflect, we share our funny and heartwarming stories of our early days together, we look at pictures and videos of our time in South Africa and when Baby Girl was more of a baby than she is now. We spend time together as a family. This year we let Baby Girl decide how she wanted to spend her Family Day. Our plans for today? Playing X-Box all day as a family and going for wings.
The perfect Family Day for our family.