Note: This column appears in the 6/24 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/25 issue of the Peoria Times
You know how you always have a picture in your mind of what someone is going to look like before you meet them? Usually we soon discover that those visual images were way off.
When my wife and I began the process of foster care with the hopes of adopting, our agency asked us to write down our ideal scenario, right down to the details. We both preferred, if ever given the opportunity, to adopt a baby girl, and any other detail seemed silly considering it was all make believe anyway. Nevertheless we listed an ethnicity, age, personality attributes…all that. Our excitement at imagining this was tempered by the reality that things almost definitely wouldn't happen that way. After all, foster care has more horror stories than fairy tales.
If you had asked me to describe what our daughter was going to look like, I couldn't have told you. But I nevertheless had a distinct picture of her in my mind. So when we walked into that room on a late November morning and met her for the first time, I mean…it was her. Amazingly, it was her.
She was now our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter. In our hearts she was our daughter from the moment we were made aware of her, but things need to be put to paper in this world. Our reservations as to when, and how, and if this would officially happen were a result of silly superstitions, our deep familiarity with the system and a general east-coast-imbedded skepticism. That everyone involved viewed this as a seamless transition proved more disconcerting to us than reassuring. We would take nothing for granted and we wouldn't rest easy for an indefinite amount of time.
The process of making things official did little to quell our concerns, as people move slowly or not at all within a system that moves slowly or not at all. Meanwhile we were raising our daughter and watching her make real a story we had made up. Still, and more so with each passing day, the thought of the unthinkable was always in the back of our minds.
Luckily for us, our allies in the process overcame our obstacles. Last week we officially became parents of our daughter. When the judge issued his decree, a feeling rushed over us like a wave of relief and joy and peace. All of our doubts -- though so real at the time -- seem so unwarranted in retrospect. She was, after all, always our daughter.
Why things work out the way they do is beyond my explanation. Nobody gave her a name when she was born, and now she is the center of our universe. She has big brown eyes and smiles all the time and looks like my wife. Go figure.
I can't help but think back to that day years ago in a conference room in Phoenix, filling out paperwork about an imaginary person. What would be your ideal scenario? That I can now say "this" is extraordinarily humbling and amazing. We are resting easy.