"But what about the first time he crawls? His first word? What about his first step? You're going to miss ALL of those things."
I smiled patiently. It was the 100th time I had had this same conversation with a well meaning family member, friend, and yes even the produce clerk at my local Safeway.
"You're going to wish you were there for those first moments." True.
"You're going to regret not experiencing those firsts for yourself." Um...
"It just won't be the same as having your own." Hold up.
I met my son, Jack, when he was 22 months old. At 22 months Jack had met the typical milestones of sitting up, rolling over, crawling, walking, and uttering his first words - of Mandarin. My son did not speak a word of English and despite my well meaning, over-zealous plan of becoming fluent in my son's native tongue, so far all I had mastered was "hello," "thank you" and "excuse me."
My son's first word of English was "more." Greater than just a word, "more" meant our son was growing to trust us. "More" meant that when our son was hungry or thirsty all he had to do was say "more" and we, his newly adopted parents, would provide for him.
A few days later came the word "up." "Up" was special because "up" means pick me up, I feel okay being held and comforted by you. More than a word, it too was a huge milestone in the road to adoptive parent-child attachment.
After that the words and other "firsts" poured through our son's opened floodgates. The first time "Baba" (Mandarin for Dad) became "Dada." The first time our son held eye contact for longer than a second. The first time he ran to us after he fell down and needed a kiss on his bruised knee. The first time he sought out a hug. The first time he laughed.
True, I never did get to experience some of my son's "firsts" but each day we share more new experiences than I could possibly conceive. It makes me wonder what would happen if each of us looked beyond the accepted norms and opened ourselves to new directions and definitions. The possibilities would be as endless as my son's firsts.