My 10-year old child has informed me that she does not like it when I call her my adopted daughter.
"I'm just your daughter," she said to me in the car as I drove her home from school.
And she doesn't like it when I refer to myself as an adoptive mom either.
"You're just a regular mom," she said.
And I just don't know how to explain to her that, no. I'm not.
Everyone tells me that it takes a special person to adopt a child. And they are right.
Sometimes it takes a person with an exceptionally big heart, who is willing to open their home and their soul to a child, often one with a lifetime's worth of baggage and heartache sitting on their shoulder.
But sometimes it takes a person like me -- a heartbroken woman with a faulty reproductive system, who is a little bit desperate and a whole lot determined.
For six years we tried to make a baby the old-fashioned way, making our way through six doctors, a few science experiments and a million tears -- not to mention a dozen suggestions from helpful friends and family members who had their own ideas about how this all works.
Finally, convinced there was no other way, we turned to thoughts of adoption. Or should I say, fantasies? Sure, everyone thinks its so easy to adopt a child. "There's plenty of kids out there that need homes," everyone says.
And there are.
And there are plenty of folks out there who would be willing to love them. If it were easy.
But adoption is hard.
First there is the sticker shock. Agencies cost upward of $20,000 or more. Up front. Catholic Charities was $40,000. Up front. Just to get on a list. And, as far as I know, there still is no adoption loan at the local bank.
Then there are the hoops. Paperwork, fingerprints, background checks, home studies, life books, letters of reference -- all must declare that we are, indeed, fit people to take in one of those many parent-less children that are out there waiting.
And then there are the minefields -- hearts ripe for the breaking, hopes ready to be dashed, dreams ready to be blown away. Not to mention state agencies whose first priority is to return children to their natural born parents first, no matter what they did to them.
Or women who aren't absolutely sure about what they are doing, who will wait until you're invested emotionally and financially, wait until your nursery is all ready and piled with baby booties and shower gifts to say, "Um. It was always my intention to keep this baby."
But people like me are willing to endure it all, jump through every hoop, step over every minefield, overcome every obstacle and endure every heartbreak because, at the end is a child that is destined to be ours.
In the first months after my baby girl was put into my arms, I couldn't help but blurt out "She's adopted!" to every stranger we met. Other family members did it too.
And it wasn't a qualifier. I wasn't telling the world, "This is not my kid."
Rather, I wanted the world to know, "Look what we did! We did it! We stayed the course! We fought the fight! And look at our prize! Yay us!!!!"
We said it with a sense of accomplishment, of pride, of achievement.
"We adopted," to us means, "We did it."
And, "thank God."
But how can I explain all of that to a 10-year old?
I guess I can't.