Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

No Prouder A Father

Yes, this is going to be a story that brags about my daughters.  When Wendy and I made the decision that we wanted to have children, we spoke of how we would want to raise them and what we would expect of them.  One thing that we both agreed on immediately was that above all, we wanted loving and respectful children.  Some of the first words that they would be taught would be “I love you”, “Thank You”, “Excuse Me”, and “Please”.  There was so much more that both Wendy and I wanted to share with Madison and Emmalie.

I must admit, I entered into this with a bit of a handicap.  I grew up not only in a broken home, and not even spending a majority of the time with my mother, but rather my grandmother.  Just as I learned about growing up as a male, I was going to learn how to be a father, winging it.  With my daughters being adopted, I was going to have to deal with not only inexperience or lack of example, but there was no way to know what the girls had already been exposed to during the first year of their lives.

There have been plenty of studies to show the importance of bonding between mother and child, immediately following birth.  Just as many other adopted children, our daughters were going to be taken away from the only people they knew.  We had to be especially careful and sensative to their needs and expectations, as we tried to educate and nourish them both physically and emotionally.

I am only vaguely knowledgable of the process how the Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs decides who to place with which children.  But I do know that the CCAA struck gold twice with our daughters.  Both girls have enthusiastic personalities, a bit of an impish inclination, generous hearts, and endless consideration for others.

When it comes to competition, both girls take sportsmanship with the same grace whether successful, or needed to try harder.  They regularly offer congratulations to other victors and support to those who fell short in their goals.  If either sense that someone is of need or want, both girls have been known to offer what they feel they have ample supply of, whether it be food, toys, or clothing.

Do they have their moments when they are recognized as a nine or seven year old?  Absolutely.  Can the girls get into trouble?  Of course they can.  Do they occasionally suffer from brain farts?  Yep.

As Wendy and I continue to concentrate on our daughters’ education, and preparation for the next stage of their lives physiologically, we have a tendency to take for granted the way that they have behaved for so long.  It is expected, and when one needs to be reminded, it is just a mild conversation that lets them know, we remember they are children, but even as children, when it comes to manners, they know what is right and what is wrong.

But as we chug through life it is a wonderful feeling when we are reminded of the love and care that we have given our girls.  One of my big peeves whether I was a single adult or whether Wendy and I were out on a much needed date night, the last thing that we were looking for on a night out, was having to deal with someone else’s children by ways of screaming and tantrums whether in a restaurant or any other public place.

The four of us are very close.  It is rare that you see any of us without the rest when they are not in school or Wendy and I at work.  And on occasion, Wendy and I receive one of the greatest acknowledgements of our parenting.  It is one of our proudest moments, when we are out with friends for dinner, which means that our full attention might not be on the girls, and some directed to conversation with our other guests, that a complete stranger feels compelled to approach us as we are dining.

“Excuse me,” said a very relaxed and pleasant woman.  “I just wanted to tell you, my husband and I were out for dinner this evening.  We noticed you and your children when you came into the restaurant, but in the nearly hour and a half that we have all been here, my husband and I barely noticed that they were even in the same room.  Your children were so quiet and occupied that not having to deal with out-of-control children like we dealt with last evening, made this one of the more enjoyable evenings for my husband and I.  Thank you.”

Our friends that were dining with us, have done so before, so they too often take for granted how our girls behave.  But on this particular evening, even they seemed taken aback by the comments from the stranger.  This kind of recognition does not happen frequently, but when it does, you bet I am one of the proudest dads there could ever be.  And so on that evening, I made it a point to tell Madison and Emmalie that I was sending a special email to Santa to tell him how good our daughters have been, and that night was proof.

There are many things that I have looked forward to as a father:  first word, first step, pretty much any accomplishment such as an award or trophy.  Eventually and hopefully I would get to see them graduate, possibly from college, and if they so choose, I would consider it an honor to walk them down the aisle.  But for now, I will gladly take a moment like this for all it is worth.

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