My daughter Faith presents me with many opportunities to write about her, like going to the local library, which became a Saturday ritual for us. We’d eagerly race to the nearest round table in the children’s section. The table reached my kneecaps as I sat hunched over in the small chair looking at the books she’d selected. One particular Saturday, Faith picked out a book about boats.
“Look, Mommy, this is a bi-i-i-i-g boat!” Her eyes widened to match the exaggeration.
“Yes, it is big,” I stated. “It’s called a ship. Mommy and Daddy took a trip on a similar ship when we went to the Bahamas.”
“Where was I when you went?”
Oh, boy. I walked into that one, I thought to myself.
“Well . . . you weren’t born yet,” I told her.
“Oh, this was before you and daddy got me.”
“Yes,” I responded, surprised.
My heart sank because for the longest, my husband and I weren’t sure if Faith understood she’d been adopted. We agreed that we wouldn’t keep the adoption from her. However, while we wanted Faith to know where she came from, we didn’t want her to feel inundated or saddened by the information.
I watched her as she nonchalantly turned the pages to her book, making attempts to read every word. Now five years old, and already a bundle of head-strong opinions; she warmed my heart to the point it ached. I found myself often staring at her while she slept, still overwhelmed with joy that she is with me as it had been a long two-year journey of needles and failed fertility attempts.
Faith approached me a few days later after talking with a friend.
“Mommy, did it hurt your stomach when you had me?”
I had my answer. Adoption had merely been a word and nothing more.
“You know you didn’t come from my stomach, right?”
“Well, whose stomach did I come from, Grandma’s?”
Her forehead creased with confusion, which stopped me short from laughing out loud. I didn’t know a delicate way to put it. When she named another grandparent, her mix-up had become too painful to witness.
“I’m your mommy, Faith, even though you came from someone else’s stomach.”
I wanted to cry, looking into her little innocent face. If only she knew I lived vicariously through her. Every time she leaped into bed with my husband and me, smiling with contentment over her face, I could only imagine her joy. Our family nights consist of games and tea parties and listening to made up stories involving characters who were friends with a fairy princess named Faith. Dance sessions with mommy were typical experiences she relished in, and I cherished endlessly, vowing privately to keep them in my mental Rolodex. If only she knew that every time she gave me a bright smile or reaffirmed that she’s “my best girl,” it gave me peace even when I’d had a day filled with stress.
A few weeks later, Faith took to cutting out pictures from magazines. A particular one-dimensional celebrity cut-out prompted me to say, “Faith she’s adopted just like you.”
She looked up at me with delight. I took the opportunity to ask her again.
“Faith do you know what being adopted means?”
“Ummm, I’m not sure,” she said, bouncing the paper cut-out on my head.
“Adoption is when someone picks you to live with them and become a part of their family. That’s just how special you are.”
I felt a bit anxious because I didn’t know if she would cry or feel down.
She smiled broadly, pleased with the explanation. Then with much thought she said, “I’m glad you and daddy adopted me. Of course you picked me, I’m beautiful.”
*Faith is an unwavering belief that does not require proof or evidence.