ADOPTION: Fatherly thoughts for Laura
Editor's note: This is part of a six-story series about adoption. Other stories about international adoption can be read here and here . Stories about domestic adoption are available here , here and here .
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--I accidentally put your shirt on backwards the other day. The buttons and ruffles looked normal to me in the back.
You didn't seem to mind.
Fortunately, your Mother -- Stephanie -- caught the mistake before we introduced you to some of our friends. I'm not afraid to admit that I'm still figuring out this whole parenting thing. I probably will be for the rest of my life.
One thing I do know is how excited your Mother and I are to have you in our family.
As I write this, you're 7 months old and probably still sleeping right now, clutching your pink blanket and sucking on your two favorite fingers. You don't really have much of a clue how your life has changed in the past month.
You've had quite a journey so far.
A little more than a month ago you didn't know your Mother and I existed. You were spending your days in an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia.
While visiting the orphanage, we met the people who cared for you. We took a picture of the room you slept in, and we played with some of the other babies who are awaiting parents. By all appearances, you were well cared for -- and for that, your Mother and I are thankful.
We'll never forget the first time we met you.
I remember seeing that black spiky hair. It stood straight up with you smiling all the way down the hall as they carried you to us. I remember thinking how much darker and thicker it was compared to the first picture we saw of you.
We remember thinking how in the picture you appeared to be on the verge of tears with those big watery eyes. Your Mother and I wanted to jump on the first plane we could find down to Colombia to hold you. Instead, we ended up waiting two months for the final paper work to be approved.
So far nothing has really turned out the way we expected.
For the first few years of our marriage, your Mother and I wondered if we'd ever become parents. There were difficult days when we asked God, "Why don't you want us to have a child?"
Selfishly, we expected things to go exactly like they seemed to be going for just about every one of our pregnant friends. "Our plans" never surfaced -- and thankfully so.
Through all of this we learned that all children truly are a miracle -- a gift from God.
Laura, you are a miracle.
In a world where so many young women choose not keep an unexpected pregnancy, your biological mother chose to carry and bring you into this world. So many other women in similar positions would have chosen to abort their child.
Your biological mother made the right decision. Because of that, you have blessed our lives.
We've found joy in even the simple things of parenting -- watching you sleep, giving you bottles and baths and saying our nightly prayers together.
One thing you can know for certain is that we love you and will do everything we can to raise you in a godly home.
You also have wonderful grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends who are excited -- to say the least -- that you are in their lives. I remember how you cried when my family practically stormed our car to get their hands on you.
Maybe someday you'll want to return to your home country and learn about your biological family and heritage. If that day comes, you have our word that we will do everything that we can to help you.
Until you're 18, your Mother and I plan to give you a small gift from Colombia every year on Dec. 1, the day you joined our family. It's our way of saying how blessed we are to have you in our lives.
Some family friends have asked if you feel like "ours" or do we feel like your parents. Our answer is always "absolutely."
I'm sure at 2 a.m., when we wake up to feed you and change your diaper, we feel exactly like most parents do -- overwhelmed, tired and overjoyed. It's a wonderful mix.
We can't imagine loving you more than we do or living without you. There's nothing like being your Mom and Dad.
We're thankful that things didn't turn out like we expected. We wouldn't have it any other way.
Shawn Hendricks is a writer for the International Mission Board.