“I love you, too, Sweetheart.” I wait a moment. I kiss the top of her head. I imagine there will come a day when the top of her head is harder to kiss, but today, she is the perfect height for head-top kissing. “Why are you glad you’re not an orphan?”
“I mean I’m glad I don’t live in an orphanage. I’m glad you’re my mom. You hold my hand when things are hard, and take care of me.” She has stepped back a little, and is looking at me intently. She wants me to feel what she is saying. I do. I feel her. I love her. I smile. My whole heart melts.
“I’m glad I’m your mom, too.”
We talk about orphanages for a couple minutes – our conversation not hard this time, not deep or intense – we talk about people who care for kids in an orphanage, how they are and are not like parents, how many kids live in one space together and eventually, she tests an idea she’s tested on me before. “If you and Mama didn’t adopt me,” she suggests, “I wouldn’t have a family. I might live in an orphanage.”
She’s wrong, but how do I tell her? Before she was allowed to live with us, while we waited for the endless paperwork to clear, she lived with her foster mom. She never lived in an orphanage, and she never would have. It isn’t how the system in Guatemala was set-up. Not the system she was in. But how do I explain? I decide it’s only reassurance she needs today. Her probe for details and information feels different to me; this conversation is all heart. I go with my heart.
“Honey, your birth mom made a plan for you – she made a plan with an adoption agency, to make sure you found a forever family.” I go on to tell her how I feel we were matched intentionally. By spiritual guidance. By hands unseen. She likes this idea. I’ve never said this before, but it’s true. It’s how I see it. She decides – for now – that’s how she sees it, too. We are silent for a stretch, comfortably so.
“What does she look like? My birth mom?”
“We have a picture of her on the side of the fridge,” I remind her.
“Oh, right!” She runs into the kitchen and pulls down the magnetic frame. As I follow her, she is already removing the black and white photo from its hot pink frame. She hesitates. “Should I – I mean, do we –“ I assure her we have another copy of the picture, and I feel her hesitation give way to hope, relief, glee.
“Can I keep this one?”
“Of course!” I tell her.
She scampers off into her room to find a place for her birth mom’s photo right by her bed.
“I love you, Mom,” she says again, an hour later or more, before nestling into her blankets, ready for sleep.
“I love you, too, Precious.”
And there it is – my Mother’s Day complete, and it’s not even Sunday. Yet.