Tomorrow is what’s known in the adoption community as “gotcha” day. After months, often years, of hoping, waiting, praying, burning incense, consulting astrological experts, reading tea leaves, and sometimes giving up (but only temporarily), this is the day you finally get to take your little one home.
Tomorrow Leila will unofficially be “ours”. It will still be another 12 months before it’s legal, but as of tomorrow there is no more back and forth between home and foster care. “Home” is now HOME.
This is the last day of family life as we’ve known it for the past 3 years. The last day Harmony will be an only child. The last day she will feel like, and actually be, the centre of our universe. The last day that the little nest we’ve built and feathered and protected will ever be the same. It’s hard to admit, but this new chapter is very bittersweet.
Second adoption aside, the road to today has been a long one. We’ve worked hard and put our whole hearts into making this family work, and making a beautiful little girl, now 7, feel loved and special and wanted and perfect. There have been countless tears, tantrums and sleepless nights, but there has also been indescribable joy, incredible pride and a depth of love I had no idea existed within me or the world at large. (Scout, if you’re reading this, I’m really sorry. And stop licking yourself. And when did you learn to read?).
Our family of three feels perfect. So are we crazy to mess with it? Maybe. Are we nervous and uncertain? For sure. Are we terrified? Absolutely.
When we met Leila two years ago she was still in diapers, taking afternoon naps with a bottle. The first time I laid eyes on her she was asleep, her beautiful, dark hair damp with sweat, her tiny chest rising and falling with each breath. At this moment in time, to say a second child wasn’t on our radar would be an understatement. In fact, the radar wasn’t even turned on. It’s quite possible we didn’t even HAVE a radar. But when I saw her, something in my heart shifted. I felt it move, as though my organs where physically rearranging themselves inside my chest, and I knew. I knew I wanted to bring her into our family and love her and raise her and make her do terrible crafts and eat my terrible cooking and have her be licked nearly to death by dogs and force her to listen to country music and watch hockey (which she HATES, by the way).
The bonus factor, the one huge thing that made me think this would even be remotely possible, was that both girls had been raised in this incredible home. And this was an opportunity to give them something, a past and a connection they would share only with each other, and not with us.
Harmony has asked why we want another child. And I can barely answer without choking up because the thought of her ever thinking she’s not enough is the darkest possible place my mind can go. So I tell her the truth. That she has taught us so much about love and patience and parenting and life. That had it not been for her incredible spirit, her capacity to love, and everything that makes up that stubborn, feisty, amazing little package, we would never have had the desire, or the courage, to adopt a second child. She doesn’t understand this logic, and I can almost hear her brain processing my words, turning each one over, looking for any hint that this her “fault” or that this is happening because we are looking for something else, something she’s not. But it’s the truth. The fact is, Harmony brought us to Leila. And now there will be three of yelling “gotcha”, instead of two.