Dearest Tris:

Our baby girl is 18 years old.  Legally, she’s an adult. Can you believe it?

About two years into our marriage, we read countless books to learn about adoption. Domestic or international?  Open or closed? We met with our doctor to be medically cleared.  We met with social workers. We wrote letters and life histories. We were fingerprinted at Homeland Security. As soon as I turned 30, in August, we sent in our dossier and settled in to wait.

One spring night, in March, I dreamed of meeting our daughter. This dream girl was exquisite, with a shock of hair dyed bright purple. Despite her punk rock appearance, I was utterly charmed. I woke up crying with happiness and anticipation. You laughed at me with gentle affection when I asked, “Do you think I’ll really cry when we meet her?”

Our referral from China arrived in November. We received three photos of a round-cheeked baby wearing dark, horizontal stripes. Her head was shaved. I showed her photos to Every Single Person. We left for China one month later, in December. We drove to the airport in a terrible snowstorm. Would the flights even take off?  You pointed out that the song blaring in the terminal was, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”  And nothing did.

After countless hours of travel, we waited at the China Center for Adoption Affairs. You were calm, but I was exhausted and utterly terrified to meet our baby. What if we didn’t get along? What if she hates us?  I expressed misgivings: “Maybe this is a mistake?” You frowned and told me that I needed to find a way to pull it together.  You were right.

When officials called out our baby’s name and brought her to us, the world receded.  She was tiny, rosy-cheeked, and hot, wearing too many layers of clothing. I held her close, overwhelmed with intense, ferocious love. Tears sprang from my eyes. Inexplicably, our nine month old daughter gently patted my cheek. You recorded these early moments on your video camera. Eventually, I snapped out of my reverie. “Do you want to hold her?” I offered. Your eyes shone.

We filled out paperwork. They recorded our signatures and her footprint in red ink.  We were delayed, because your middle name, “Harry,” was misspelled as “Happy.”  We agreed that it was the most accurate of errors!

Our relationship changed when we adopted our daughter. As new adoptive parents, we needed each other in tangible ways. We were more in love, both with each other and also with our baby girl.  There was a settling, a shift. Our family was finally complete.

It’s March again. Our baby girl is now 18.  Legally, she’s an adult. It’s unbelievable. You should see her now. She’s like you, in so many ways. She’s amazing.

You should be here.