not yet a year and change
Eleven months ago, our daughter was born to an incredible young woman. Bright, kind, generous, peaceful, passionate, active, energetic, grounded. When we first met K, she had been living quite an adventurous life on her own. She was dedicated to making the world a better place. She craved adventure and had plans to travel. She was truly a free spirit.
K was barely 20 years old when she became unexpectedly pregnant. Two and a half months after Baby J was born — just when she could finally reclaim her body from healing after birth — K turned 21. A whole year of her life had passed.
It was around then that K began to reclaim her life too. After spending a significant amount of time together for the first two months of Baby J’s life, K returned to the life she had enjoyed before. We knew that day was coming, when our paths would inevitably diverge until we would see each other again, so we made the most of our time together while K was still nearby.
It was nearly three months before we saw K again, though we kept in touch every week or two by phone or email. Then it was another six weeks until we saw her Thanksgiving weekend. In December, on the winter solstice we celebrated the anniversary of the day we met and spent some time around the holidays. Then we didn’t see her again until March, when she joined us in court to finalize our adoption. Yesterday, we saw K for what will likely be the last time until mid-to-late summer. The next time K sees our daughter, she’ll most likely be walking and talking.
Now as we approach the one year mark, we can see so many changes since that vivid day nearly a year ago. Our daughter of course is growing every minute, her little personality emerging through her huge smile, infectious laugh and sweet gestures. We have grown far more confident as her parents than we were that first intimidating night. And K, well K has gone through her own sort of transformation.
A year ago, K was uncomfortable in her own body, dealing with unwelcome drama, and preparing for birth. She had left her life behind to live at home until the baby was born. Her friends didn’t get what she was going through. She was frustrated by the limitations of her condition. Don’t get me wrong. K had a lot of love for the baby she was carrying and was completely dedicated to bringing her into the world. Yet despite her growing belly, time seemed to stop for K. She was anxious to reclaim her body and return to the world she knew and missed.
Throughout the process, we had encouraged K to articulate her needs. When she finally found her “voice,” she was also able to be more assertive in other areas of her life and in other relationships. The birthing process in particular empowered K in a way that she had never before imagined. This strength too, she has applied to other aspects of her life.
While her recovery was long and hard, the moment K felt enough strength, she was ready to go. Since then, K has been committed to work she finds necessary and rewarding. She was always dedicated and passionate, but with new strength and assertiveness she became a leader in her work. She was always generous and giving, but she learned how to articulate and respect her own needs. These are remarkable changes. Now, she counts more friends than she has had in years, including women. Several opportunities have recently arisen that will lead her in some interesting directions. In her own words, K is blessed with “abundance” in her own life that she has never known before.
Of course I am thrilled for her. I want her to be happy, content. I want her to find joy and love. I want her to continue exploring and learning and growing. I want her to follow her heart, wherever it may lead.
Yet of course I also want her to remain connected, involved.
This summer, K will turn 22. Given K’s free spirited and adventurous nature, we always knew that she could be in and out of our lives from time to time. We made it clear that she would always be part of our family and that she would always be welcome in our home.
Baby J may still be a little too young to fully appreciate who K is, but soon she will know and some day she will understand. I feel like I want to keep reminding K what an important person she is in our daughter’s life, to urge her to stay in touch more when she is at a distance for long periods of time. Yet there’s a fine line between encouraging and pushing.
Intuitively, I believe that K too is somewhat torn about her need to “move on” in the natural direction in her life. For instance, K has always talked about being here to celebrate Baby J’s first birthday at the end of May, but now she won’t be.
I only hope that as our daughter grows, we will find meaningful ways to stay connected that respect her interests and needs as central, because to me, they are.