My younger son became a father today. Really he’s been her father for over three years now, for nearly half of her life. Ever since he married her mom. When their own son was born a year and a half after that, his first thought was, how lucky am I to have a son and a daughter?
So this piece of paper they are getting today isn’t going to change that much. It won’t change how he feels about her; he has loved her deeply, completely, from the very first day. It won’t change his commitment to her; she has been his daughter to take care of and provide for, to love and to teach and to comfort, from the very first day. It won’t really change anything but her name.
Except…it will. And I know this because I’m her grandma, and even though I have been her grandma from day one, and I love her with my whole heart, just as I love my grandson and my other two granddaughters, I know that after today, when the judge decreed that my son was her legal father forevermore, it will be different.
She is ours. She is irrevocably, undeniably, now and forever and ever ours. She has all the rights of a child born into this family. She isn’t a stepchild. She isn’t a step-grandchild. She is ours. Even though she has always been ours … she is ours.
And I have to imagine that at some point in her life, the fact that the man who chose to marry her mom also chose her, chose to become her father as well as her daddy, will make a difference to her. Today all it means is that she gets to have the same last name as all the rest of us, and probably will get to go out for ice cream after the court hearing. And she will get a pretty necklace from grandma and grandpa with her new name engraved on it. And she will get a special present from her mom and dad. And today will be like having another whole birthday. Woo hoo! What eight year old wouldn’t like that?
But at some point in her life, when her hormones are all whackadoodle and the mean girls at school have decided to target her that week, and she and her mom are doing what teenage girls and their moms do best (fight), and she’s crying in her room, she’s going to feel sad and lonely. She going to think she doesn’t belong anywhere, that she doesn’t fit in anywhere, that she has no place in the world.
She’s going to feel all the dramatic emotions young girl-women feel, and maybe she will think about her dad. Maybe she will think about how he didn’t have to adopt her, but he did. How he didn’t have to make it official, but he did. How he chose to love her with his whole heart, and with his name, and that means that she does belong somewhere. She does fit in. She does have a place, and it’s in that home and in this family.
And that will help her through some tough times. That will help her negotiate the hard years, when nothing makes sense and a girl-woman often feels like nobody loves her.
She is ours. And we are hers. And nothing will ever change that. Forever and ever. Amen.