Meant to Be: A Letter to My Daughter on Her Birthday

Filed under: Babies, Adoption, Gay Parenting, Birthdays

Long ago, before there was you, when Daddy was not yet Daddy and I was not yet Papa, he and I promised each other that someday we would be parents. We had a wedding and bought a house, but then let more than a decade pass while we waited to be "ready" for a child. (We didn't realize there is no ready, only willing.)

In the early fall of our 11th year together, Daddy's beloved Nana passed away, one week after deciding it was her time to go. But first, she'd called her children and their children to her bedside, sharing her love one last time and commanding us all to live full, happy lives.

When Nana died, Daddy and I both felt something stirring inside, a clear impulse that it was time to move forward with our plans to adopt a baby, adding a new life to the now smaller family. Many of the people who would become your relatives, godmothers and aunties were thrilled when we announced this decision.

But my own mother didn't think God approved of two men raising a child, an opinion also shared by the governor of our home state and some of the most prominent men in the land. The doubters didn't stop us: Our course was set.

It was almost spring when Daddy and I filled out the paperwork to start the adoption process. We were told it would take 18 months or even longer for us to become parents, and we believed that would be true -- until the first surprise of many came our way. Your birth mom picked us to be your dads a mere eight weeks later, just weeks before her due date.

Everyone involved was amazed; the process never happened that fast. Moreover, there was a coincidence we couldn't ignore: We learned that you had been conceived the week that Nana died. Destiny.

Then, to our great sadness, things fell through. The agency told us to try and forget it, to move on -- such a speedy match was a fluke, after all. But every night of the week we'd been told you were due, I went to bed imagining a baby out there somewhere, and thinking that maybe, just maybe, it would all still work out. I dreamed of you, not yet knowing who -- or if -- you were.

The next week, your birth mom called us from the hospital, still wanting us to be your dads, after all. We heard your voice for the first time, a distant cry that tethered you to us for good, even across the miles. In the thrill of our connection that morning, we almost missed an impossibly wonderful detail: arriving five days late, you had been born on Nana's birthday.

How could you be any child but ours? Even my mother, who had been praying to understand what God wanted, had to agree: It seemed miraculous. If her Creator was strong enough to command a universe into being, He could certainly have disrupted one small adoption, but had not chosen to. She changed her prayer, instead asking God to watch over us as we flew across the country to her new granddaughter.

There were a couple of twists still lying ahead in the road that brought us to you, but they fade in memory next to the sun-soaked summer morning I held you in my arms for the first time. So tiny, a fluttering thing, a bird. We passed you back and forth, terrified and in love, and began to earn the names you call us: Daddy and Papa. There are no words, written or spoken, for what that moment meant (and means) to me.

Today, you are 6. You are too young to care what so many politicians and pundits are still saying about families like ours, but I know someday you will hear and understand their callous words, the harsh proclamations they utter without regard for their effect on children like you. I am sure those comments will sting when they land, but when that happens, I want you to remember this story.

I am not a mystical person, but there was a kind of magic in the making of our family. Nana somehow knew this; in her last night on earth, she told the granddaughter at her side that a baby was coming, that there was a little girl on the way to the family. Nana was right, for here you are.

As you celebrate your birthday -- and hers -- you're exactly where you are meant to be.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.