Today–April 11, 2012–the day that we have unknowingly been waiting for since the moment Madeline & I became Madeline & I on May 16, 1997… Michael will adopt Madeline, and we officially and forever become the family that we already were, but with all the legal benefits.
Officially… Michael, Madeline & Me. Husband & Father/Daughter/Wife & Mother.
Madeline will be an Abegg, and in the eyes of the law… she will belong to Michael, and he to her.
My life hasn’t been ideal by the standards of what our society has deemed “ideal,” but my life, our life–Mads & mine–has been one of love & constant growth & mutual support & solidarity towards each other. In my eyes, I bore her alone. And against all odds I raised her. And with all intentions, I raised her with the hopes that she would never want or need anyone but me, until she was ready to be on her own.
And then came Michael.
But what most people don’t know is the story of Michael & Madeline. How from the very first time they hung out, and especially from our very first camping trip together… how they were almost immediately inseparable. How when Michael told me he loved me, I said, “Do you ever think you’ll love Madeline too?” And he said with so much conviction it almost made me flinch, “Are you kidding?!!! I already love Madeline! I love Madeline because she is yours!” How when she needs something (anything!) she will first go to Michael for his sound advice & his handy ways. How they are very monkey see/monkey do… whatever Michael is doing or wherever he is going, Madeline is not far behind. How when they walk, they walk almost exactly the same in their languid yet determined stride… and how she will look at him and say, “What if it’s possible, in a science fiction sort of way, that I am really yours? That we are really related by blood in some distant, otherworldly way?” And then they imagine the possibilities together, without any thought towards the ridiculousness of such things… but just the thought that they are so much alike that it has to be true.
How when she goes to sleep at night, he always says to her, “Sweet night, good dreams… I love you!” And she says, “Sweet night, good dreams… I love you too!”
Perhaps I’ve never shared, that when I show Michael photos of Madeline when she was a baby… he instantly feels pangs of jealousy & lost nostalgia, because he wasn’t there for her to watch her during those years of her life. And that when he realized that he only had a few years of “little Madeline” left before she started her inevitable shift towards independence & young adulthood… he made a very conscious & deliberate effort to fill their every spare moment together with things that would bond them together forever… like hiking, camping, surfing, music. And perhaps I am the only one that relishes in the fact that when someone says “stepdad” or “stepdaughter,” he immediately & firmly makes it known that “I am her dad and she is my daughter.”
I don’t know how I got so lucky in life.
All of Madeline’s life, I’ve said that if I could have ten Madelines, I would have ten. That’s how perfect she has been… from the moment I found out about her swimming in my belly, all the way up to this morning as I am typing this. She has gracefully made it through every transition in life, always defying the norms.
And in my lifetime, I’m not sure that I could’ve ever wished for or even imagined not only a perfect partner for myself, but a perfect parent for Madeline… as is Michael Abegg.
So again, I don’t know how I got so lucky in my life. But today, even more than normal, I am so very thankful that I did.
(last photo by jenny jimenez)