The courage of a young woman for whom I am forever grateful resulted in an adorable bi-racial baby girl being put into my arms — and something wonderful happened. I loved her! Hospital personnel and visitors of other newborns were convinced by our giddiness and photos that this was our first baby. Benny and I enjoyed each surprised look when they heard she was our seventh.
When we rounded the corner onto Rockwell Road the next day six blondes pushed by each other to be the first to see her. They had sufficiently argued over who would hold her first. Jaime won. At 16 she was already the self-proclaimed second mother.
I never imagined it possible to so intensely love a baby to whom I hadn’t given birth. But she had been in our hearts for years. Some 12 years earlier Benny told me he believed God would someday allow us to adopt trans-racially, so we had kinda been “expecting” for over a decade. By the time she came we were eager to embrace this little sweetheart into our hearts and home.
She soon become “Little One” — which Jake and Joey still call her. Some of my favorite memories are coming into the room and seeing her lying asleep on 17-year-old Josh’s chest; watching Jaime load her into the van to take on outings with friends, knowing people would assume she was her mommy; noticing her holding a ten-dollar bill and realizing the man in line in front of us had given her the money she asked for!; watching her brothers tenderly hold, kiss and play with her; and watching her “teach” 7-year-old Janelle how to take care of a baby.
Her relationship with her 2 sisters and 4 brothers remains sweet. And they’ve given her eleven nieces and nephews to babysit; make crafty creations; paint toenails; and play video games. Their first question when they walk into the house is often, “Where’s Aunt Julia?”
Early on, she learned she could talk Daddy into most anything. The little penny candy machines he refused to “waste money on” for the other children became the recipient of his quarters. He smiled over things she said and did for which her siblings were corrected. One friend winsomely exhorted him that our little girl “needed a daddy, not a grandfather.” Their relationship remains one of the joys of my life.
As she grew I wanted to make sure she had a good understanding of her African American heritage. I loved reading black history children’s books to her and drawing to her attention to the many outstanding achievements of African Americans throughout history. And, yes, I wondered what it would be like for her to grow up in the whitest family ever.
When she started teasing us about never getting as tan as her at the beach, calling us “Blondie” when we did stupid things and assuring me she didn’t really need to see the newest documentary on Dr. King I knew she was okay. And then I watched the commentary without her.
One of my heartfelt desires was that she would know that she is loved and cherished. I wanted her to feel as much a part of our family as her sibs and to see the gospel in full view by how grateful we each are to Him for bringing her into our lives. As with all teens, we’ve had some rough waters. Benny and I increasingly realize that even though she’s our 7th we still have a lot to learn about parenting. She’s been patient with us.
The world says that today she becomes an adult. But today and always she is our baby girl. Little One. Recipient of more cash than we had to give to her siblings (yep, we admit it). And the one who always makes sure the house is tidy when we come home from out of town.
Happy Birthday, Julia. You’re not blonde or blue-eyed…but you calling me Mom reminds me of the gift you are to me. I love you!