April 3, 1979.
Daniel and I took a bright eyed little girl who was two years and nine months old, to a big old courthouse in downtown Columbus, OH, and “got her papers.” Adoption back then was very low key. There were six people there. Christina, Daniel and I, the caseworker, the lawyer and the judge. We went into the chamber and pretty much promised to love her forever, provide for her and protect her and they said we could be her daddy and mommy, all legal and proper. And suddenly, what had been a long time coming was all legal and proper and DONE.
We told our girlie that she could choose where we went to eat lunch to celebrate. There was no question in her mind at all.
“McDonalds!” she proclaimed, and would not be deterred. And that was fine with us. Eating out was a rare occurrence for our little family, and McDonalds was special.
I looked at this bouncy little girl, thought of the joy she had brought into our lives, and realized that she was home to stay and somewhere in my heart, something settled into peace that had been a long time coming. I looked across the table at Daniel and thought, “She’s our very own. We have a child that is ours for keeps.” There was an incredible wonder and joy and quiet rest.
Christina had an unusual grasp on what was happening that day. She had been in our home for almost two years, and had watched other foster children come and go, and “getting her papers” very, very big in her eyes.
“Anna had to go away,” she told her Aunt Freda Zehr some months later, “But I got my papers and I get to stay for ever and ever!”
Christina couldn’t be more our own if she had our genes and chromosomes. She has set the tenor that often defines our family in ways that are rich and full and even cohesive. She has been the smiles and the music and the honesty that often makes us look better and calls us to act better than we might otherwise. We are so grateful to God for bringing her to our family.
On days like today, I think of the fact that somewhere there are two people who gave Christina life, and I seldom think about them without a deep, deep sense of gratitude for this incredible gift.
Where would our family be without her? I don’t even want to think about it.