The truth is I’ve been holding out on you.
I did indeed share last summer how my then boyfriend got down on his knee in front of my dog, my three-legged cat and five chickens and proposed. It was a wonderful moment. Truth is, it’s only half the story of what happened that day.
Several hours later, after calling family and friends, and going out to celebrate, I found myself in my bedroom with my freshly minted fiancee’s 13-year-old daughter.
“Are you really happy?” she wanted to know.
“I really am,” I shared, knowing there was one more question that needed to be asked. “Daddy asked me to marry him, and now I have a proposal for you.”
“Once Daddy and I are married, if it’s OK with you, I’d like to adopt you,” I offered in a somewhat shaky emotional voice.
Her beautiful blue eyes got really big and she asked, “What would that mean?”
Smart kid. Read the fine print before signing up for a life-changing event. She certainly has seen plenty change in her young life. Saw her parents divorce. Saw her mom pass away when she was only 8 years old. Saw her father do the best he could raising a young girl alone.
“Good question!” I assured her. We talked about all the families we know who have adopted children. She has one cousin from China. Another one is on the way from Ethiopia. There’s her friend Kate, who was adopted at birth. Her friend Genevieve was raised by her single mom until her mom got married a few years ago and her new stepdad became her legal dad. And there’s Cooper, the son of Craig and Michael, the couple who introduced me to my new family.
“This isn’t about replacing your mom,” I assured her. “The way I see it, your mom did something I couldn’t. She gave birth to you. Could you imagine if I had done that? You would have all my genes!”
The thought brought on the half-laugh half horrified look I expected, having been told plenty of times in the last year, “You’re so weird!”
“Your mom started the job of raising you,” I kept on. “I know if I had started that amazing job and had to leave too soon, my biggest wish from heaven would be that someone would come along and love you and raise like you were her own. That’s how I feel, and that’s what I want to do.”
There was a pause, that for me felt like an hour, when in reality it was probably only a few seconds. “You’d really want to adopt me?” she asked not believing.
“I do,” I told her. “As much as I want to marry Daddy, but only if and when you want it. We can do it soon, next year or never. It’s totally up to you.” I’ve always let her control the speed our relationship. “You don’t get to choose who your father dates,” I told her during our first heart-to-heart talk almost three years ago, “but you will always get to decide how much you and I do together. You steer that ship.”
She jumped into my arms. “I really want you to adopt me!” she exclaimed.
Talk about a big day!
I share the rest of the proposal story now because five months after I married her Dad, the documents have been gathered and the papers filed. We go before a judge this week. I am excited for this day as I was for my wedding. I know I started to love her the day I met her and her dad almost three years ago. If all goes well, by the time you read this column I will be able to call her legally what she has already been in my heart for a long time. My daughter.