Friday, April 16, 2010

A Monumental Day (Times Two)

Today marks two important milestones in our family's life.

Before coming home to us, my daughter sat for 19 months in a nursery, caught in the middle of a lot of red tape, not realizing she'd ever have a real place to call home. It wasn't that she wasn't well cared for -- they kept her clean, fed and loved as much as possible -- but she wasn't with her family. Over the past year and a half, she has taught us more about patience and unconditional love than we could have ever imagined.

Today... April 16, 2010, my daughter has officially been home with us longer than she was without us. It's a day I wasn't sure would ever happen, the journey has been a roller coaster of joy, pain, and lots of questions. Anyone who tells you adoption -- or parenting for that matter -- is living happily ever after, they're either lying or on mass quantities of anti-depressants. Because no matter how your child arrives, there's a whole lot of self-doubt, frustration and fear that come along for the ride. While some say that everything fell into place immediately, others like our family honestly share that it takes a lot more than hugs and family movie nights to overcome some of the difficult obstacles that arrive with a child who didn't experience those important bonding moments throughout the first year and a half of her life. Rejection, fear of intimacy, and an emotional push/pull can not only confuse a child, but her parents as well. It's only been over the past several months that we've begun to exhale, seeing the change in us all, discovering each other in a way only a family can. We love you, baby girl. Thank you for completing our family.

But that's not the only reason today is so significant. April 16th, 2010 has always loomed in front of me as one of the most significant days of my life. As I've mentioned before, my mother was 39 years and 13 days old when she died of breast cancer. Yesterday, I turned 39 years, 13 days. That means today, after almost 36 years of wondering if I would suffer the same fate at such a young age, I have actually outlived my own mom. It's a bittersweet milestone, reminding me of how blessed I am to have the family I do... and confirming all of the tough decisions I've made and steps I've taken to fight for my life were absolutely the right ones.

Both of these milestones wouldn't even exist without the loss of two young lives -- both Lucy's mom and my own mom. I can only hope the pain and self-discovery that comes along with the grief can be something she and I can share and bond over through the years. Today is an example that life is not about what happens to you, but what you do with it. There is tremendous positive growth and a whole new appreciation that can be discovered through tragedy. Finding it can mean the difference between an ordinary life and one that's extraordinary.