I have two daughters, one by adoption and one by birth; both mine.
When we welcomed Elise into our world, we had been in the adoption process for 21 months. We had been fingerprinted, background checked, undergone a home study, assembled a foreign dossier, signed risk waivers, told to give up, then been given a miracle on August 25, 2008 – a 2 month old baby girl in Vietnam. We traveled to Vietnam four months later to meet our daughter on December 18, 2008 and bring her home.
We were in a foreign land, picking up a stranger who we were now able to call our daughter. I’d been given pictures of her when she was 2 and 3 months old, and I just assumed I’d be meeting the baby in the photos, but when we pulled up to the orphanage and saw the caretaker holding a baby (the only humans in that area), I remember thinking, I guess that’s her. And when she was placed in my arms for the first time, I held back tears because I didn’t want the Vietnamese caretakers and officials to think I didn’t have it together.
My husband and I were in a foreign country, surrounded by strangers while having our first family moments together. We didn’t understand the language, and we were thankful we didn’t have to drive around! We also couldn’t wait to get back to our Tapestry family, so they could finally rejoice with us.
* * * * *
When we welcomed Maggie into our world, I had been pregnant for 9 months. I held felt her kicks and seen my belly grow as she grew. And when she was born on May 11, 2011, I remember thinking, “Well what do you know? There really was a baby in there,” as my husband said, “She looks like me.”
As Maggie was placed in my arms, I had the same feeling of wanting to hold back tears as I did with Elise. Only this time, we were surrounded by nurses and doctors and family and everyone spoke English, and we didn’t have to survive a 16-hour flight before we could celebrate our child with family and friends. We could celebrate immediately.
Two girls, two different stories.
One daughter has a flare for the theatrics and aspires to be a pop star. The other follows after the pop star trying to emulate her every move. She adores her big sister which means we are well on our way to raising two divas. As I manage my divas, they don’t notice their differences. They just notice that they fight over the same toys and love the same mommy and daddy (they fight over that, too). The beauty of their story is our Tapestry community. You don’t know your differences when you are surrounded by other trans-racial families. You just live life together, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
After teaching Deaf Ed for eight years, Annie McClellan now works as a stay-at-home wife and mom. She and her husband serve on the Tapestry Adoption & Foster Care Ministry leadership team, and in 2011, Annie started assisting Tapestry with their online communications. She blogs at tapestryministry.org/blog and mcclellantown.com. Thanks to her girls, Annie has become a prolific consumer of fairies, princesses, ballerinas and all things pink.