I don’t know what’s it like where you live, but in Marin County, California, parents register their babies for preschool moments after they’re born. I understand why. Everybody else does, too. What that means is that when Olivia joined our family at almost two years old and I tried to register her for the next year, preschool directors shook their heads with sympathy and said, “No room.”

The directors were willing to put us on the waiting list, for a fee. That’s how, for $25 a pop, Olivia became Number 181 on one list, Number 375 on another. Tim and I were fine with that. Neither of us attended preschool—it didn’t exist when we were kids—and we turned out all right. Besides, Olivia had been through so many changes in her young life that she needed the stability of being with me all the time, of feeling assured that I was her mother, and I wasn’t going anywhere.  

One morning at the playground, I met the parents of a little boy who told me about their son’s preschool. I had never heard of the place; it was affiliated with a theological seminary with students who attended from around the world. But the parents raved about it: small classes, lots of outdoor space, and a teaching philosophy that emphasized kindness and love. Not only that, but because the teachers were seminary students or married to seminary students, they represented a more diverse population than any other school in Marin. I called the school that afternoon to arrange an interview. The next semester, Olivia was enrolled. Her first teacher was African-American. 

Both our kids have attended the school. I admit I’m biased, but they are kind children who love learning. Never once were they made to feel different because they are adopted. They feel accepted for who they are, which is more important than their learning any alphabet. 

This past Saturday was the school’s annual fund-raising auction, our last one. In September, Mateo will begin kindergarten, at the same public school Olivia now attends. As the kids ran around greeting their friends and teachers, I thought about grateful I am to have discovered our preschool. I miss it already.


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