At the time of year when families are honoring adoptions, executive director Sheri Daniels shares her family's story.
2003, 2005, 2008, 2010.
These are the years that are forever imprinted in my heart, the years that changed my life, that made me believe in something bigger than myself. These are the years in which my children were born.
I take no responsibility for creating them or carrying them for nine months. I acknowledge their birth moms who made the conscience choice to allow another to carry the title of mama/mom/ma/mother.
Each opportunity to adopt was not unlike going through a pregnancy. Some were planned, some were not. My husband and I had deep discussions and preparations before each birth. Each came into this world on his or her own terms. Each of my children carries his or her own story.
We know that each child chose us. And that is one of the reasons I think they are valuable – like that heirloom jewelry left by tūtū.
Folks with good intentions questioned whether we were sure we wanted to adopt, sharing others' horror stories and cautioning us on all that could go wrong. In looking back, I was only nervous for my hiapo (oldest, first-born) because the process was new and unfamiliar, and I was scared of the potential heartbreak if things didn't work out. With the next 3 births, that specific fear was not there, but others arose.
I was there to welcome each baby into the world, carry them out of the hospital and safely tuck them into their car seats. My husband was there, too, for the first three, but with our fourth born on Oʻahu, he was home with the older three waiting for their new tita to arrive.
People often question why I am open with my children about their adoptions. Why do I encourage them to understand what that means. Well, because (1) they deserve to know how loved and wanted they are, (2) we live in Hawaiʻi and it is a small place, and (3) I physically can't have babies. Giving my children the knowledge of who they are empowers them to value the experiences and lives they live. Too often we take for granted things and people, but adoption is a true selfless act for all involved.
Perhaps people should ask us how and why this has worked for my ʻohana. Be prepared to meet my keiki. They will explain.