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Four little words rocked my world.

As I sat down to dinner and reread my place card, I felt a second pair of eyes watching me.

Almond-shaped eyes, to be exact.

Ansley’s little body hugged close to the corner of the wall as she said, “Do you like it, Mommy. What I wrote?”

How could I not.

I held out my arms and welcomed her in, engulfing her slender frame. We had had numerous conversations about her adoption from China. In my heart of hearts, I believed an open dialogue was the best avenue about this topic.

However, when many late night tears and deep moans of anguish were followed by all the why questions, I started second-guessing this theory.

“Why didn’t my birth mother want me?

“Do you think I look like her?”

“Do you think I’ll see her one day in heaven?”

This last question always got me, because Ansley never prayed to meet her parents on earth. Nightly, she repeated the same request for their salvation so they could make it to eternity.

Her God-given gift I believe is discernment. This child can read me better than anyone else. It turns out, she can read others, too.

One day we were in Target and a woman we knew from church walked over to say hello. Ansley took one look at her and said, “You don’t go to our church anymore, do you?”

My mommy-alert went off, wanting right then and there to cup my fingers over her lips and back away. I already knew the answer to this awkward question. Ansley was right.

We’re still working on discretion.

Months passed, and we had a string of nights filled with “why” questions. I left the room and let Jason take over. Even though she was only an eight-year-old child, her words pierced my soul.

We’d prayed for her, chosen her, loved her…yet our conversations surrounded the mystique of the unknown. I got it. I’d want these answers, too. Wouldn’t everyone?

That night Jason explained how it’d be best for a little while if Ansley only talked to him about this topic.

And that was it for months.

No word.

No tears.

She carried on being her silly self.

Until three nights ago when she rocked my world.

And again this morning when she wrote this:

“Dear Mommy, I love you with all of my heart. I will never let go of you!

 20 Reason I love My Mom.

1) she fed me

2) took me in

3) takes care of me

4) loves us

5) equals us

6) understands me

7) cinsadive heart

8) takes us places

9) home schooled us 

10) crys with me

11) takes care for us

12) does things nice when she doesn’t want to

13) funny

14) loves the things we give her

15) shares with us

16) trains us

17) reads to us

18) let’s us stay up

19) gives us freedom

20) cooks for us”

Well. I paused at the last point. My cooking abilities have always been questionable.

I folded the place card and 20-point note into my journal.

Dabney is my mom, I repeated in my mind. And Ansley will forever be my kid.

Author, speaker, and professional patient who calls West Palm Beach home, Dabney Hedegard is the Headmistress of The Hedegard Academy. She loves writing, jogging, and chasing kids. Her memoir, She’ll Never Make it Through the Night: The nine lives of Dabney releases July 2013 (Tyndale House Publishers).  You can find her playing around at www.dabneyland.com