Love was in the air that day. We were decked out in fancy clothes, getting ready for a very important date. This date had been set months in advance, and we absolutely could not be late for our reservation.
It was February 13, 2009. Our special date was happening the day before Valentine’s Day, and we felt there was no better way to kick off a weekend devoted to love. This special date, however, was not a romantic night out with my husband.
Our family was on our way to the courthouse to finalize the adoption of our daughter.
I appreciated the symbolism of adopting our daughter the day before Valentine’s, but I was harboring an irrational fear. It was also a Friday the 13th. I felt I needed to counter one superstition with another, so I put her in a little dress embroidered with horses and horseshoes. I sat on the floor of her bedroom, blowing her hair with a blow dryer until it was glossy and straight. She was 18 months old and giggled when the warm air tickled her face.
Our boys were excited about adopting their little sister, but they still wanted to attend their class Valentine parties at school. Since our hearing was in the morning we promised the boys they could swing by their classrooms in the afternoon to hand out cards. They boys had been through this before when we adopted their brother, and they knew they had to be on their best behavior.
We arrived at the courthouse and signed in. Even though this was a happy occasion, waiting for our turn to enter the courtroom was intimidating. My heart was thundering in my chest and my stomach was churning.
After what seemed like an eternity, it was time to go in.
When the judge entered she spoke about how she loved adoption hearings. I was called to the stand. My legs were shaking. I raised my right had and promised to tell the whole truth and nothing but.
Yes, I answered. I want to adopt this child. Yes, we want her to be a part of our family. Yes, we will take care of her forever. Yes. Yes. Yes.
She had been a part of our family since she was 5 days old. She had captured our hearts in the most profound way possible, and in that moment, the strike of a gavel cemented our futures together.
We went for lunch afterward at a restaurant that was serving heart-shaped pizzas. I took the boys to their Valentine parties at school while Nick stayed back with the little ones.
That evening wasn’t very different from any other Friday night since my husband and I became parents. We stayed in with our kids and ate chocolate cake in celebration of the day. Everyone was in bed at a decent hour. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
We spent the rest of that Valentine weekend basking in the love of our family. I thought my heart would burst from all the joy and gratitude it was carrying.
It’s hard to believe 5 years has passed since that special Friday the 13th. The baby we adopted that day has grown into a hilarious, kind, and creative little girl.
Our funny Valentine.