Sitting in the hotel room seemed like sitting on the surface of Mars. Nothing in the room seemed as it should, nothing seemed to have a function. The beds were simply somewhere to sit, the window opened to nothingness. I paced back and forth, staring at my 18-year-old daughter who had decided that she wanted to meet her biological parents that had given her up at birth. We were supposed to meet them and go to dinner. This was the day I had been worrying about since we flew home with her in our arms so long ago. My wife and I had met them and had even taken them to doctor appointments leading up to her birth. So, the mysterious aura surrounding them that my daughter was anticipating was just a small facet in my mind. For the rest of the evening, I couldn’t keep my eyes off her.
One moment I was heartbroken, then excited, then scared and worried. I wanted to hold her and protect her the whole time I was letting her go. “If you love something set it free if it returns it is yours, if it doesn’t, it never was” became an offensive quote. I was being selfish, and I didn’t care. Yet, her mother and I were the ones encouraging her to take this giant step, risking losing her back to the people who had given us so much.
I thought about the first time we saw her in the hospital. She was only a few hours old. Her long black hair was so thick. I thought about the first steps she took and how proud we were. She could do anything. She seemed like the smartest kid on the block. I thought of her first day of school and all the hopes and dreams we had for her. She could be anything. Within weeks she would be teaching the class. I thought of her first school recital and how nervous I was for her. She was the best singer on stage. She was making the others sound like amateurs. I thought of the first time she drove. It scared me to death. Would she be a victim of a drunk driver? I thought of her picking out colleges. Would she stick to it? What would she become? I thought of her graduating high school. She was so independent. This had been such a long road so far and there was so much road left ahead. Then I thought of this moment. I was so petrified. Would she pick them over us? Would she turn her back on us and chase a dream?
As I said, I had met these people 18 years earlier and we had reconnected with them again in the months leading up to this moment. I felt very good about them, they had gotten their lives on track and were doing well for themselves. They did an enormous amount of church work and were very spiritual. They couldn’t say enough how happy they were and how God had meant for this to be. They had always known that we would find them and we would be reunited. They had told everyone that they met about their experience and had used it in many church lessons when they counseled youth. They informed us that their families were jubilant to meet us and meet their new sister or ‘Mija’ as they all called her. They assured us that they never regretted making that decision so long ago. Hopefully, I wouldn't regret tonight.
Most children of adoption wait until they are older in life to start searching. In fact, most start looking after they have kids of their own. On the other hand, we had helped her as soon as she was of legal age. That was the deal we had made her from the time she was little and started asking questions. Some said we shouldn’t have encouraged her. Some said we were crazy and that we would lose her. Some even said we should not talk about adoption at all. We felt in our hearts that this was the right thing and it was worth the risk. And yet, here we sat, waiting for the knock on the door and a new chapter to begin for all of us. This was her first step on her own to define herself as our daughter and a woman. I thought of her running off to these people she didn’t know but were still a part of her. I thought of her changing her mind at the last minute and breaking their hearts.
Suddenly, a shuffle of sound outside the door, followed by a soft “knock, knock”. My heart stopped. I don’t know if we even made it to dinner that night.