I’m told that my daughter Olivia reached each of her early milestones on time. She’s healthy and robust, so I assume that it’s true. The first time she rolled over, sat up, grew a tooth. Said a word, took a step, or blew out a birthday candle. I was told it all happened, but I don’t know for sure. Like many adoptive parents, I wasn’t there for any of it.

My husband and I were luckier than most. We started Olivia’s adoption in 2002, and during those days in Guatemala, adoptive parents were allowed to visit. And visit we did, as often as we could. Over Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, President’s Day, and Fourth of July. Our daughter’s foster parents, who loved Olivia and whom Olivia loved, brought her to the hotel where we were staying and reported on what we had missed. “She’s holding the bottle by herself,” her foster mother said. “She can pick up Cheerios. She likes to roll a ball. She knows how to clap her hands.” And there would be Olivia, baby teeth grown in, pulling herself up, babbling. Each time we saw her, she seemed to be the big sister of the baby we had left behind the visit before.

 After a year went by and the adoption still wasn’t finished, I quit my job and moved to Antigua so I could foster Olivia myself. Another six months would pass until the paperwork was final, but at least I was there when she began walking with confidence and talking with more frequency. I had already missed enough.

Olivia is now seven-and-a-half years old. Her big teeth are growing in. The front ones are in completely. The ones on the sides are slowly breaking through. Every morning at breakfast I check on the new teeth’s progress and relay my findings to my husband: “Another millimeter,” I say. “Look how straight and healthy they are.”

My husband doesn’t tease me. He listens and hears. My husband was there, too. He understands.


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4 Responses to “Milestones”

  1. Monty says:

    You are more attentive and connected to your daughter than most parents of biological children. My mother has no memory or recollection of any of my “milestones” and she was there from the start. Your keen awareness and desire to witness and guide your child’s developement is a testiment to your love and
    devotion. Your time apart at the very beginning has ultimately given you more to cherish than what so many take for granted but never really see.

  2. Jessica says:

    Monty, thank you for your lovely comment. I really appreciate it.

  3. cindy bailey says:

    Beautiful!! Thanks, Jessica!

  4. Jessica says:

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Cindy. Really appreciate it!

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