Baba. Daddy. Dad. Your name is worthy of celebration. You are worthy of celebration.
Your name is powerful. For our children, your name means comfort, safety, strength.
Perhaps you were the daddy that our child was scared of, and so lovingly and patiently, you pursued our little one. It took time, lots of time – months, years even. But you did it. You pursued our child with a father’s love. You showed us all that love is patient.
Or maybe you were the daddy our child had to be held by at all times. In the time before our child was ours, she learned that mamas leave. So in those early days, weeks, and months, baba was the one she clung to. Felt safety. Daddy, she felt safest with you and in your arms, so that is where she stayed.
You carried her in the baby carrier all over China when you would’ve felt more comfortable demonstrating your strength by carrying all of our luggage. But she wanted you, so you showed up and stepped into that role that she needed from her daddy, even though that was out of your comfort zone. You said “yes” for her, and in that yes showed real strength and vulnerability.
You changed every diaper.
You were patient and calm when our child was scared. And whatever made her feel safe, you did it, because before love can bloom, felt safety is the soil that must be tended to. Tending to soil is such messy work, it is not glamorous, and sometimes, you want to rush that part to see the bloom, but that part cannot be rushed. You get that. But once love blossomed, that painstaking time tending to the soil made it more beautiful than you could’ve imagined.
You lead our children in nightly prayers, and point the way to The Father.
Daddy, that older child you adopted, you cradled him like an infant. You stepped into that gap that was, and filled it with your tender strength saying “yes” to rocking, saying “yes” to singing lullabies, saying “yes” to nurture. And even though your child might be too old to be cradled based on other’s opinions, you cradled him, because you know that is what your child needs. You know that your child missed out on all of those opportunities with us…with anyone, and so you do it now. You lovingly do that now, even after a stressful day at work.
Daddy, you said “yes” to my idea to grow our family through adoption, even though at first, you were hesitant. You took on more projects at work to help us pay for our adoption too.
You embraced adoption, the fear, the paperwork, the financial hurdles, the social worker visits, the questions and the detailed family biographies, the red tape, the unknown, the slowdowns, the adoptive training, the background checks, the foreign culture, the special needs, the surprise diagnoses. You embraced the child who was once an orphan and is now your beloved son, daughter.
When I saw our son’s photo in the waiting child advocacy group, you said “yes” to becoming a daddy again. With fear in my voice, I said, “I think he might have more needs than what is listed in his file.” You said, “That’s okay. When we say ‘yes’ to adopting him, we are saying we will love all of him – the known and the unknown. Saying yes to love and yes to family often means loving through fear, and saying yes despite fear.” And you were right. You realize his little life is precious and that he has been through so much.
You say “yes” to co-sleeping even though for years you swore we never would, but our child needs us close. During the night terrors – his cries for mommy and daddy – you knew that at night time, he needs us the most.
You play with our children for hours.
You read books on attachment and trauma. You say yes to “connected parenting.”
You listen to me when I have a hard day and remind me that I am a good mom. You take days off work so that I can go to adoptive mom retreats or out with girlfriends for respite.
Daddy, you say “no” to racist comments and “jokes.” When others say, “That’s just our generation” or “that was just a joke” you say no more. You remind people that we are a transracial adoptive family, and that means stepping into conversations about race, educating others, and setting firm boundaries. And because of love, you step into those conversations. You educate yourself about issues and topics you were ignorant of before our family grew through transracial adoption. You do this, because you know it matters for our children. You talk with our children about race, about racism, and help model how to handle such interactions. You do your best and push yourself to learn more and do better, because you know our kids’ experiences will be different than ours.
Dad, you make mistakes. It is okay, we know you are not a superhero. You aren’t perfect, and we don’t need perfection. But, you show our children the importance of repair when you lovingly say, “I’m sorry. I love you.” By showing them that you are human and make mistakes, you are teaching them important lessons. Lessons that demonstrate they do not have to be perfect to receive our love.
You say “no” when people want to know private matters about our child’s history. You are protective of her story, her finding spot, her sensitive diagnoses. And in saying “no” to others, you are saying “yes” to protecting her.
You said “yes” to embracing our child’s culture. You learned about Chinese culture, and you tried your hardest to learn Mandarin and Cantonese.
You said “yes” to finding the best schools, doctors, therapists, support for our child. You traveled halfway across the world to adopt our children, and all over the country to give them access to the best care possible.
You help educate people about the importance of language when discussing race, adoption, and special needs – and you do all of this in a loving, but firm way. You get that if people knew better, they’d do better. So, as their daddy, you help people know better.
And in doing so, daddy, you make this world a better place, a kinder place for our children.
Let’s hear it for the dads! What do the dads in your family do that is worthy of celebration?