There are so many happy memories to reflect on right now. A year ago today, we went to the hospital and – after what felt like an eternity of waiting – got to meet, fall in love with and bring home our daughter. Matthew – while everyone at the bus stop watched – met his baby sister for the first time in the back of our minivan. There weren’t many dry eyes at the bus stop that day. When my parents brought Zachary home, he took one look at Kayliana and started giggling profusely – he just couldn’t believe that she was real and really home. And, once again, very possibly my favorite kid quote of all time, that night, while the boys rocked Kayli and sang her a lullaby, Matthew said, “I like her MORE than love…like I don’t even know the word for it.”
Through all of the joy and delirious happiness that we were experiencing, deep down, my heart also ached. If I let myself, I could clearly hear the heart-wrenching sobs in that hospital room as a brave young woman lovingly placed her baby in my arms. Those first few days with Kayli at home – and still to this day – while I whispered fervent prayers of gratitude for our daughter, another part of me prayed for peace and strength and healing to envelop Mia. I could not wrap my head around the gift that she gave us. How does someone do that? Love their child so much they give them up for a better life? It really is the ultimate gift.
And that is why we are more than happy to have a relationship with Kayliana’s birth mom. We are so blessed to have an open adoption for our daughter so that there are more people to love her. It’s funny how people have applauded us on our willingness to do that, and I understand, and there have been – and will be – times when it’s a little challenging, but I still wouldn’t change it. It’s still worth it.
So, it seemed natural that we should share Kayli’s first birthday with the people who made her life – and her presence in ours – possible. On Friday night, we had Mia and her parents over for a celebratory dinner. We hadn’t seen Mia since our joint birthday dinner in May (we share the same birthday – just to really solidify how ‘meant to be’ this all is); we hadn’t seen Mia’s mom Norah since a trip to the zoo in April; we hadn’t seen James since that day in the hospital when Kayli was two days old and left with us. I was nervous but mostly very excited to see them. I knew that they must be feeling the same (times ten). Kayli has changed so much in just the last couple of months. She’s not a baby anymore! She’s a toddling, playing, little rippin’ around machine.
In my opinion, the dinner went flawlessly. The boys were obviously VERY comfortable with Mia and her parents (as in, being very much themselves and getting a little wild and wound up – much to the amusement of our company). And, thankfully, Kayli didn’t do too much clinging and was really comfortable with all of them as well. She was pretty much perfect. It was all pretty much perfect.
Mia and I even had a heart-to-heart. We both talked about how crazy it is that it’s already been a year. She said how thankful she is that we’re open to her being a part of Kayli’s life and that, she gets that WE’RE her parents and nothing will ever change that. “You’re the ones changing the diapers, cleaning up her vomit, there with her in the middle of the night…I’m so glad that I chose you…and that you chose me…well, that we found each other.”
“And you’re her birth mom,” I said. “She’ll always know that she was in YOUR tummy and that you loved her enough to choose us for her family – these crazy people that you stuck her with – she may hate you someday for it!”
We laughed together and agreed that we are totally the poster family for Open Adoption. Look out! There’s a new Juno in town.