One Adoptive Mom Shares How It Feels to Reach This Milestone
Each year, Adoptive Mom Rebecca writes something about her adopted daughter, Camila, on her birthday to help mark the passing of time. This year Camila turned 18, and Rebecca asked us to share her short essay about her family during National Adoption Month. As with many mothers and fathers, sending a children off into the world is a stepping stone fraught with emotion. For Rebecca, as Camila’s adoptive mother, the emotions come with even more symbolism.
Thoughts on My Daughter’s Adult Birthday
My daughter was born 18 years ago today. But I wasn’t in the room. I wasn’t the first one to see her head and body wiggle its way from one universe to another. Not the first to hear her cry announcing to the world “I am here!” Not the first to hold her to my breast. Not the first to smooth the mound of black hair on her head, or to tickle her perfect pink feet. Not the first to touch her cheek, to stare into her dark eyes, to take in the sweet newborn smell in the folds of her neck. I was not the first to kiss this perfect child and wonder what life would hold for her.
I was not privileged to share in any of those firsts until my daughter was two days old. And on that day, the day I was able to experience all of those firsts with this perfect baby girl, I was overcome with emotion unlike any other I had ever experienced in my lifetime. I had never felt so inadequate, so unprepared, so unsure of who I was as a woman, as a mother-to-be, as a human being in this world. Because on that day, two days after my daughter was born, it was up to me to take this perfect child out of the hands of the young woman who did experience all those firsts, and cradle her into my own with a promise that I would take over from that day on and be this child’s mother.
When you have a child by birth, you vow to yourself you will be the best parent you can be. And each time you break that vow, and there are many, you disappoint yourself. But when you adopt a child and make a vow to the birth parent that you will take care of that child and love that child and be the best parent you can be, each time you mess up, you wonder if you are in fact the best parent for that child. Would she have been better off being in the care of someone else?
So here I am, 18 years later, still wondering if I was the best parent for this perfect little girl. I know I have loved her and continue to love her to the core of my being every single day. I know I have done everything in my power to guide her and help her grow into the strong young woman she is today. I am amazed at her beauty, inside and out, and more than anything else, her self-knowledge and confidence as she takes on whatever life puts in front of her with curiosity and zest. How did this happen? A little bit of biology, a little bit of environment, mixed with a whole lot of love.
Eighteen years ago I was not privileged to witness the miracle of my daughter’s birth. But today I AM in the room, as she emerges from childhood to adulthood.
And today it’s my turn, to let her go.