Jackie + Julia

I decided to adopt simply because my body just couldn't have a baby.  After two and a half years of IVF, many tears of sadness, anger at my body for not functioning properly and a lot of money, I decided the only way to make my family was through adoption.  My friend Mo, also a single mom through adoption, was the person I called for advice. She told me that adoption was the light at the end of the tunnel, and that I would get my family.  It didn't matter how.  Now I know that family is family. The day we flew back, my youngest nephew who was 5 at the time said to me, "how do you know if you love someone if you just met them?" and I knew, I had my family.

Tiffany was the first phone call from the first potential birth mom I ever received. She was a single mom, so she didn't care that I was a single mom, and we clicked. At the end of a two hour call, we decided to take the next step. Sheepishly she said, "I hope this doesn't freak you out, but I am due on Thursday!" It was Monday. I jumped on a plane the moment my lawyer told me I was allowed to. I remember being nervous as heck, hardly believing that I might come home with a baby. The birth mom and I met for lunch and then went for a check-up at a small regional hospital. The doctor came in, did his exam and exclaimed, "There's the baby's head! We're having a baby!"  I called my mom and told her to jump on the next plane to Indiana. Three hours later Julia was born. I was there to help deliver her and cut the umbilical cord.

The first time I saw her, I lost my breath. I literally gasped; it was truly amazing to witness the miracle of a baby coming into this world. I didn't name Julia for 48 hours until I finally had the release papers from the birth mom. Those 48 hours were the longest ever. I was terrified of losing my baby girl who I had just met and fallen in love with. In a strange way, I was trying to protect myself. Finally I picked my grandma’s name Julia, and my Julia came to life.

My favorite picture of Julia and I is one my mom took on the flight home. It was the first time I said "I love you". I hadn't said it yet, but taking off with Julia on my chest, I breathed in her scent, hugged her and whispered to her, "Baby girl, I love you. We're going home. We're safe now. We’re a family".

Because of the IVF journey, I didn't want to buy anything in advance and sit there looking at a room full of baby shit and get even more depressed. My mom and I stayed in a hotel in Indiana with nothing. Looking back, it's crazy how much stuff we buy for kids and how little you can survive with. We went to the local Walmart and bought her some pink stuff, so she would have a pink onesie to fly home in. I cherish the journey now, and of course I saved the Walmart onesie. Later, all my friends chipped in and bought me everything I needed —  from a stroller to diaper genie —  and had it shipped to my apartment so I was geared up when I got back to Manhattan.

Being a mother is about the day to day love that grows and continues to grow every day. It's obviously about caring for this little being that depends on you for food, shelter, guidance, love and basic survival needs. But for me, I am loving growing with Julia: seeing the world with her, watching her eyes as she experiences new places near and far, the joy she takes splashing around at the beach. I'll be excited to watch her grow and have her own dreams of what she will be in the world and how I'll be there for her every step of the way.

I am truly the luckiest Mama alive. I literally have to pinch myself, and say how the F did I get this perfect little angel in just 8 days. Julia saved me. She saved my heart. She gave me soul. She is my heart. She is my soul. And so it is. That's what adoption gave this former wild child, nomadic, hippie want-to-be, world traveler. Adoption filled me with more heart and soul than I ever dreamed.