When I was younger, I had some beliefs that you might call mystical. If I liked a boy, I’d read his and my horoscopes just to check if something special was going to happen that day. As a teenager, I’d drive my car and whisper, “The next song that comes on will be a sign.” Then, when “You Can’t Hurry Love” began to play, I’d think it meant that the perfect boyfriend would come in time. I “just [had] to wait.” (I was also clearly a cornball, but that’s neither here nor there.)
I continued to look for signs as I grew older but as time moved on, my faith in them lessened. Maybe it was just that I got older and wiser and realized some things really are just coincidences and nothing more. Maybe it was when my father died. Somehow, the signs didn’t seem to matter after that. When he died, when our happy lives were ripped apart, my whole perspective changed. I just couldn’t see life the same way.
As time moved on, I saw more and more terrible things happen. I saw young mothers die of cancer, leaving their children behind. I saw my father-in-law die only months after I joined his family, never experiencing the retirement he had worked his whole life to enjoy. I saw school shootings and car wrecks, heart attacks and strokes. And with every dark tragedy that happened around me, I came closer and closer to a particular outlook on life: What’s the point? Why do we try to be happy? Why do we search for our true love if we’ll lose him down the line? Why do we have children, their footsteps the beats of our hearts, if we may have to watch them become sick and lose them too? Why try at all?
I know it’s bleak. I know it’s morbid, but that is how I began to think. And with that outlook, I could no longer justify a belief in cosmic influence. The two just didn’t blend together.
I’d love to say that when Rosemarie arrived, my outlook completely brightened, that I suddenly realized the point of it all, but that just isn’t true. I was madly in love with my daughter and beyond grateful that we found her, but I still worried about the day it would all fall apart. I still dreaded the moment the next tragedy hit.
And I still dread that now. But the day we found Mia, something changed.
Anthony proposed to me in April of 2007. Since I was a teacher, we wanted a summer wedding, and I had my sights set on June. I don’t remember why or how, but June didn’t happen; July didn’t either. I wanted a Saturday night wedding but for some reason, we ended up on a Sunday. I remember often making the mistake of thinking our wedding would be on August 8, 2008, instead of August 3. I think I just liked the sound of the repetitive eights, but the third it was.
On August 3, 2008, we had a wonderful wedding, I looked exactly as I wanted to (Anthony was there too), and our life began.
We spent the following August 3 in Pier Village on a little couple’s getaway. I can’t tell you what we did for our second anniversary as I don’t have the slightest memory of it. The third time our wedding date came around, we received the call that changed our lives. A baby girl had been born that morning in Oklahoma. She was a tiny thing under six pounds, and about 56 hours later, she was ours and we were hers.
I loved telling people she was born on our anniversary. I loved seeing them smile and widen their eyes. “Wow, talk about meant to be,” they’d say. And I’d agree. But I’m not sure I really believed it. Of course, I knew my daughter was mine. I knew I loved her with every single piece of myself and could never love anything more. But, deep down, I don’t think I 100% believed she was destined to be our daughter instead of simply and luckily ending up that way. I wondered if she was. I considered it, but I don’t think fully accepted it.
Four wonderful years passed with Rosemarie in our lives. We watched her change from a fascinating infant to an energetic toddler and then to the very spunky little girl she is today. On August 3, 2015, we celebrated her birthday at home. We had an Entemann’s cake in our kitchen, sang to her as she wore a giant smile and watched her open gifts with glee. I meticulously took pictures and video to use in our adoption posts on Vine and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, so that someone somewhere might see them, see our happy family, and want to choose us to raise her unborn baby.
And when the cake was eaten and the wrapping paper was thrown away, our August 3 came to an end.
Two months later, fall had arrived. We said goodbye to summer and Rosie returned to school. One late September night after we had finished eating dinner, the adoption phone rang. My mother stood at the sink washing dishes, so I escaped to my basement stairs and shut the door to hear better. And there I sat as I learned about Mia, a two-month-old girl in Texas. I was told how amazing she was, how we would fall in love with her the moment we saw her.
I smiled as I listened to her praises and when the call came to an end, I hoped Mia’s birth mother would take the next step, that she would speak to our attorney Robin the following day.
When I woke up Rosie for school the next morning, she was in a thinking mood.
“Mommy, when we get our baby, will we get a boy or a girl?” she asked as she stepped into her sweatpants one leg at a time.
“Whatever God decides. Which do you want? Boy or girl?”
“I want a sister,” she said her little chinning nodding up and down.
I smiled at her and hoped that just maybe we had found her one.
I lay on my bed that afternoon when an email from Robin came in. She had spoken to Mia’s birth mother. I scanned through the email with the usual list of information Robin obtains: name, location, age, etc. And right there on my phone, on the glowing screen, I saw it.
Baby girl DOB Aug. 3, 2015. Mia Rose Smith*.
I put my hand over my mouth and gasped out loud. The skin on my arms, neck, and legs felt as though it were sparkling. She was born on August 3. August 3, 2015. Just hours before we sang to Rosie on her fourth birthday, before we snapped the perfect family photo, Mia had entered the world. She had cried her first cry. She had fussed as the nurses cleaned her and swaddled her. She had closed her eyes as she lay in her birth mother’s arms and drifted off to sleep.
Days passed as we kept in touch with Mia’s birth family. On September 30, we flew to Texas to meet our second daughter. We told our mothers and our siblings, but I refused to share her birthday with anyone but Anthony. I felt as if that one secret detail was holding it all together.
As we got to know our little girl with chocolate chip eyes and olive skin, we waited for the paperwork to be signed. It wasn’t all magical of course. The first time I held Mia, she pulled my hair so hard, I wanted to cry out. Instead, I tried so hard to keep smiling. (I didn’t want her birth mother to think I was mean after all.) As we held her throughout that night, she cried. She cried and she cried as we tried to soothe her. And when we had to witness her birth family’s goodbyes, it was our tears we tried to stop.
But then there were moments like the one in which the social worker texted us to let us know Mia was ours.
We bent over her in her stroller and she smiled up at us for the very first time. We Facetimed Rosie and showed her her surprise:
“See, Mommy,” she said. “I told you it was a girl.”
And soon enough, Mia got to know us and came to love us. Now, she is our daughter and Rosie’s sister and the last piece of our happy family.
I still doubt many things. I still wonder what the point of this all is. Why we seem to make ourselves happy, only to someday have that happiness taken away.
But I married my love on August 3, 2008. Rosemarie was born on August 3, 2011, and Mia was born on August 3, 2015.
And now, I can’t help but think that some sort of fate or cosmic influence played a part here, that God wanted us together and maybe decided that long before any of us came to be.
None of that means tragedy won’t strike. It doesn’t mean there won’t be terrible things. Awful things might happen. Perhaps my heart will be broken. Maybe our lives will be torn apart.
But no matter what happens down the line, nothing can change the fact that we are all meant to be together. The four of us are meant to be family.
We were meant to find each other even if someday we may lose each other.
I pray every day that we won’t. I pray that our lives will happy and full and long, but at least I know no matter where we end up, we are all exactly where we’re meant to be. I am exactly where God wants me. With the husband and the daughters who were born to be mine.