Remember how you felt at Christmastime as a child? Magic, excitement and wonder surrounded you. You eagerly waited in anticipation for the holiday festivities – joining together with family, sharing a meal, baking cookies, attending church. And, of course, you couldn’t wait for that special gift from Santa! What you may not have realized at the time was that there are far better and more important gifts in life. These are not the gifts that can be bought or exchanged; they are the gifts of the heart.
I’ll never forget the last Christmas we spent before our daughter was born. We were matched with a potential birth mom just weeks before Christmas. Every time we would do something to celebrate the season, I kept thinking: “If all goes well, this could be the last time we do this without our child.”
With each event, each tradition and each special moment, I imagined what next year could be like. I pictured our future child sharing Christmas with us. I envisioned snuggling by the fireplace, decorating the tree as a family and watching our child’s eyes light up. In that moment, I was temporarily filled with that same sense of wonder and anticipation I felt as a young girl.
Later that winter, the day our daughter was born arrived. As I peered through the window into our backyard that morning, a beautiful winter scene greeted me. The freshly fallen snow sparkled in the light, and I was once again briefly filled with a childhood sense of wonder and anticipation. I ran to grab my camera to capture the scene, figuring it would be a wonderful photo to share with our daughter one day.
We got the call to head to the hospital just after lunch, and the baby was born later in the afternoon. My husband and I were filled with so many emotions that day – excitement, nervousness, fear, anticipation, sadness and joy. We wanted to become parents more than anything, but we also knew how difficult this day was for our daughter’s birth mom. My eyes filled with tears many times as I thought about what she was facing. A part of me felt guilty: it was hard to accept that my joy would be someone else’s pain. Our social worker, an adoptee herself, reminded us: “You’re not taking anything from her. She is giving this gift to you because she wants to.”
Shortly after the birth, we were called into the hospital room to meet the baby. Her birth mother was holding her, and my heart went out to her. I cannot even imagine the depth of her emotions at that time. But despite how she was feeling, she gently and willingly handed the baby to me. As I held this beautiful baby girl, I was immediately filled with love. She was so tiny, precious and perfect. I couldn’t believe that I was soon going to be her mom!
We’ve created many memories since that day and shared many gifts with our daughter for Christmas. But none of the packages under the tree mean anything when compared to the miraculous gift of love that we received – our precious daughter. For us, adoption was the best gift of all.