Since I was 14 years old, I've wanted to adopt. I remember being in my room, listening to the radio. They were doing a story on the crisis with China's children and I was dumb-founded. In that moment, my dream of adoption began.
So how do you pursue something like adoption in eighth grade? You don't, technically. But like the kid who decides to be a doctor, you live your kid life, and you have this adult dream on the horizon that you slowly move towards. I never faltered. My dream morphed (e.g., the when, the where) but in my heart, it was always going to happen.
On my third date with my now husband, I asked what he thought about adoption. Not marriage. Adoption. We were at the Botanic Gardens by the little Japanese house, by the trees, by the water. He was 24 years old. He shrugged and said, "Um, why not?" Good answer, because if he had answered "no", he would not have become my husband. Maybe that sounds harsh, but would you stay with a person who wouldn't, who couldn’t support and share your life dreams?
I can look back on that moment and many moments since then and see how freaking lucky I was. It was a weird question to ask in general and specifically on like, a third date. But he gave a good answer which worked out, since I’m in love with him.
So life went on. We got engaged a year later, married the year after that. I wanted kids right away. My husband, not so much. Kids? Yes, but not immediately. Five years passed and we had our first child. Twenty-one months later came number two, and twenty-two months later number three. Suddenly, we had a loud, joyful chaos – three maniac boys, two dogs and a house in the burbs. Life was good. Life was great. But life was incomplete. Someone was missing.
We both wanted to pursue adoption internationally. For me, since I first heard that radio broadcast about children in a far away land, I imagined a child in my life that didn't look like me, came from somewhere different, came from somewhere I wanted to celebrate.
The journey to that "where" was never a straight line for us. There were places we ruled out immediately and places that ruled us out. Wherever our child was to come from, we had to be not just willing but passionate about learning more. We had to be committed to incorporating the culture, language, art, food and essence of our child's homeland into our home the best we possibly could. Through bumps and curves and for a number of reasons, our hearts landed us in Ethiopia.
Two years ago January, I called my friend who is from Ethiopia, and asked her to tell me, truthfully, how she felt about an Ethiopian child being raised in an almost completely white suburb by Jewish hippy folks. I shared with her every anxiety I had about it. She laughed and said we were a wonderful family. She said she knew the kind of love we had in our home. She said she thought it was meant to be. I cried tears of joy in the Trader Joe's parking lot. The simplicity of her answer gave me courage.
It only took four months to submit all our initial paperwork and complete our home study. And then the real work began. On the surface, all we had to do was wait. And wait. And wait. Until July, when we received our referral and our daughter’s beautiful face came into focus. And you know what? It was a really long wait. Because I've been waiting for this child since I was 14 years old.
On October 9, 2009, Mike and I finally met our daughter. At first she just looked and looked at us. And we looked and looked at her. But when I crouched down, opened my arms and said, "nay" – "come here" in Amaharic – she came right to me in her pink sparkly shoes and I hugged her. And with that, we became a forever family.