On Saturday, the 4th of July, it was our one-year anniversary of becoming a family.
And what a year it has been!
In adoption, there are many milestones that could be celebrated – the day I was approved as a match for her, the day I met her, the day she moved in with me (the day I brought her home forever), the day the adoption order was approved, and the celebration hearing date. I’d never keep track and can only cope with one big milestone a year, so I chose for us to celebrate our “Gotcha day” as the Americans call it, on the 4th July, which is the day I met my daughter for the very first time.
I was so filled with excitement and emotions, it was such a vivid day for me, and she was shy at first, but as the day went on I got a little smile, and she played peekaboo with me behind a chair, and in the afternoon she put her tiny little hand in my hand, and my heart exploded with joy.
That day was the greatest day of my life, and even just remembering it brings tears to my eyes, it was so special and amazing. And for her of course, it was the day she met her mama for the first time, even if she didn’t really know it or understand at the time.
Many people prefer to celebrate the moving-in day as their anniversary, but for me, our moving in day on the 12th July was tense and traumatic for both of us, and was not a day I want to celebrate and remember, as it was the hardest day of our introductions period, and the most upsetting for both of us. So I picked a lovely, sunny, happy day to remember and celebrate instead!
Here we are, 365 days later, and I just can’t believe it! In some ways, it has flown by, and I can’t believe it’s been a year already. In other ways, I am shocked it has only been a year – feels like she has been part of our family forever, and sometimes it’s hard to imagine a time before she came into my life, as it feels like she has always been there.
We had originally planned to celebrate this anniversary with a big party at the local pub, but of course that was cancelled due to Covid, so we went to see the hedgehogs, foxes, deer and tortoises at our local wildlife hospital instead, and had a lovely, low-key day out together, just the two of us, which turned out to be perfect anyway. In the afternoon her godparents arrived, who are in my “support bubble” and we had a really lovely weekend hanging out with two of my best friends in the world, who just so happen to adore my little girl too.
When I look back over the adoption process, it’s amazing how quickly I have forgotten all the ups and downs, and all the frustration I felt at the time, they have faded so quickly, and what I remember instead over the last year or so are the really poignant moments that relate to my daughter. Like the moment I realised that she was born almost exactly the same time that I started my adoption journey, and it just felt like fate. It feels as if she really were meant to be mine from the very beginning, and I can’t stop thinking about how utterly perfect she is in every way. Or the first time I read her profile on the database and it just felt right and I couldn’t explain why. Or the first time I had to leave her for a whole day to go to London for a work meeting (my neighbour babysat for me) and I missed her so much all day, and then when I came home her smile when she saw me lit up the room like sunshine. Or the first time she spontaneously said “I love you mummy” and my heart melted.
Of course she’s 2 and a half, so there are difficult nights, and tantrums and tough times, but overwhelmingly she is the sweetest, loveliest kid I know (I realise I am biased but seriously, she really is). She is just the best kid in the whole world, and I cannot believe how lucky I am that of all the kids out there, I got to be her mama. I believe in Karma, and in trying to be a good person and put good vibes out into the universe, and that if you do your best to be kind, good things will happen to you in return. And if that’s the case, I must have done something right to get her as a reward, because otherwise I just don’t know how I got so lucky.
It’s been the biggest adventure of my life, and we are just getting started. I have loved watching her grow and change and learn new things, and seeing her bond and connect with me over this last year, and I can’t wait to see what kind of person she grows up to become.