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The woman who held our adopted baby seemed reluctant to hand her over, just like in my dream.
My 13-year-old daughter was known for her enthusiasm. Excitement was Maddi's nature. But the day she returned from a mission trip to China, she was practically ecstatic.
She couldn't stop talking about the orphaned babies the group had spent time with. "Mom," she said, "there were so many. I held them. I played with them. I made them laugh and coo."
"That's nice, honey," I said. She'll be a good mother someday, I thought. Until then she had a lot to learn about babies. I certainly had no desire to return to the days of diaper changing, bottle washing and constant supervision.
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My son, Zach, was 11. He and Maddi were fairly independent now. I liked having that freedom for myself and more time to spend with my husband, Lance. My family was exactly the way I wanted it to be.
Maddi kept talking. "I have an idea," she said. "I set my heart on it the minute I walked into the orphanage in Shantou." She grabbed my hands, her eyes bright. "Mom," she said, "let's adopt one of those babies."
Maddi's confession startled me so much, all I could do was laugh.
She looked crushed. "I'm serious!"
"I know," I said. "But we could never do something like that."
Tears welled up in Maddi's eyes. "We'd save a child's life," she said. I put my arms around her. She made me proud. She'd had an unforgettable experience seeing those abandoned children. Anyone as loving as Maddi would want to rescue them too.
As the days passed Maddi held fast to her idea. She didn't let up. Several times a week she asked her father and me if we could adopt a baby from China. "I'll help take care of her," she offered one evening at dinner. "I promise."
Lance could tell the subject was beginning to irritate me. "No, Maddi," he said. "It's not possible."
"Why not?" Zach chimed in. Now we had both of them to contend with.
"Children need parents," Maddi cried. "You of all people should know, Mom!" Tears streamed down her face, and she ran from the kitchen table, leaving her dinner untouched.
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Lance and I sat quietly. My daughter's words had hit home. I understood very well the benefits of adoption, and Maddi knew it. I was adopted myself. My blonde hair and blue eyes didn't match Mom and Dad's. We looked nothing alike. But there was no doubt in my mind. We were family.
"Maddi has thrown me for a loop," I said to Lance. "This idea of adoption. It seems crazy." He agreed. For us, having a son and daughter was just perfect. Presumably, we could have more children of our own, if we wanted. I was 39, but it was still possible.
A few days later we went to my parents' for the weekend. They were eager to hear about Maddi's trip. She was the center of attention, especially when she talked about the orphans of Shantou. "I wish Mom and Dad would adopt a baby," Maddi said to them.
I wanted to crawl under the rug.
"That'll never happen," her grandpa chimed in. "Your mom's too old."
"Wait a minute, Dad. You think I'm too old to raise another child? You were 40 when you adopted me."
"That was different. This isn't something you want to do, is it?"
On the way home Maddi sulked in the backseat. I couldn't help feeling sorry for her. She hadn't wavered from her wish in the three months since she'd come back from her trip.
Teasing me in the corner of my mind was a thought. Maybe it's not such a bad idea after all. I could never mention this to Lance. He would never agree to it.