How long has she been with you?

The common question when people meet me and realize my youngest is adopted:

When did you get her?

Or

How long has she been with you?

Last night I met a lovely woman at the playground who I hope to visit with again, and she asked the question, “How long has she been with you?” I answered; we had a great chat.

But I wanted to understand why this question ruffles me. During high school I volunteered at an inner city mission in Atlanta, and then became a part of the community. In this neighbourhood people asked, “Where do you stay?” when I would choose to say, “Where do you live?” It seemed to me then the word choice might reveal something about stability, or views of home, or even historical complexities of the South. The adoption question seems equally complex. The word choice and how it bounces around my heart worth considering.

As ruffle sources I played with the words in my mind: When is a child yours? Is she with me? Or are we out of sync today? What makes up parenting? When did you get her? Like picking out a new car or have I yet “gotten” her heart? Ultimately none of these idea try ons fit what is happening in my mind to this question.

So I gave the intended info last night, and I usually do, but I also realized what may be happening internally is that I have many answers to “how long has she been with you?”

She has been with me since Craig and I talked about fostering/adoption 25 years ago prior to our certainty about each other.
She has been with me 7 years this summer when we started the formal adoption process.
She has been with me since August 2010 when the first courts named us as parents.
She has been with me since fall 2010 when we received the proposal.
She has been with me since May 2011 when we first were with her face to face and faced judges and answered questions of why and what.
She has been mine since April 2012 when she finally came home.

Maybe the ruffled heart comes because I am sensing echos of the painful waiting.

She has been with me for a long time.
She is with me today, and it is good.

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