Nine years ago in the middle of an April night, the phone rang in my house. The call was one we’d been waiting for; it was to let us know that our son was on his way to being born.
After four years of infertility, four miscarriages in less than two years, arriving at dead ends with international adoption, and finally making our way through the maze of a domestic adoption — he was almost here.
Christopher Kai Wagner made his way into the world and took his first breaths via the care and grace of his young birth mother at Wilcox Memorial Hospital on the island of Kauai on May 1, 2008.
My son is a native Hawaiian — born to a Caucasian birth mother and Hawaiian birth father. That phone call was to let us know he was coming and to direct us through the process of receiving him as his adoptive family.
One or both adoptive parents had to get on a plane immediately and get to the hospital in Lihue, Kauai to be with him. In my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, that week was Derby Week — the precursor to the best two minutes in sports, The Kentucky Derby.
Visitors, celebrities and dignitaries swarm the city Derby weekend to witness the soon-to-be historic running of the race, so Louisville is poppin’ — the airport is humming and hustling, the streets and restaurants are full and festive. It is awesome.
It’s also a hard time to get a flight in or out of the city with a few hours notice on Derby Eve Eve, but after calling our travel agent, I got the last available seat that would take me from Louisville to Hawaii — a 15 hour travel day.
My husband and daughter would follow the next day, but I was the mama, and I was going to go meet my child and bring him into our family.
It was a whirlwind of frenzied last-minute packing fueled by joy, adrenaline, nervousness, anticipation — the gamut of emotions that you can just scratch the surface imagining.
I can remember sitting on the tarmac waiting in line to take off on the last leg of the flight from Seattle to Lihue. It was dark and the cabin lights were on, so I could see the reflection of my face in my window seat over the wing.
I remember with every cell of my body the thoughts that my mind created while I looked at my face:
“Nothing will ever be the same. This is who I am now. I created the path to this child — with my body, my mind, my pain, my losses, my curiosity, my grace, my grit, my faith, my defiance — with my partner and my young daughter. This is a miracle. My life will never be the same. I think I could do … anything.”
Hours later, I got into Kauai after 9 p.m. and drove in the dark to the hospital. I had very little information about how to get there — I don’t even think I used my Blackberry to navigate — lol.
I drove a rental car across a small tropical island to meet my little boy and the woman who brought him into the world.
We sat together in her hospital bed holding our son, each other’s hands, and laughing and crying together. And again came the thoughts:
“Nothing will ever be the same. This is who I am now. I can do anything.”
Today is the birthday of that miracle — the miracle that is my child and the miracle of the realization that my path was and is in divine order.
It was the birth of the possibility that, my life, should I choose to say “yes” to it in an expansive way, could burst into blossoms I only let myself imagine as a young girl.
Nine years later to the day, I sat in a Paris cafe this morning drinking my coffee and listening to music while I watched people walking by.
Shuffle landed on one of my favorite David Bowie songs that’s from the 80s film, Absolute Beginners. The song is the title track, and instead of letting it stream into my ears like a backing soundtrack to the city, it became more than that on this day of celebrating birth:
“If our love song
Could fly over mountains
Sail over heartaches
Just like the films
If there’s reason
To feel all the hard times
To lay down the hard lines
It’s absolutely true”
I started to cry — as in tears rolling down my face and having to wipe them on my sleeve at 11 in the morning in the 8th arrondisement.
I flew over mountains and sailed over heartaches to complete my family. It felt just like a movie. There were reasons for the hard times and hard lines. They are my truth.
And I have come to understand that all of those mountains, heartaches, and hard lines weren’t just about completing my family.
They completed me.
They are still at work on me, actually.
I live my life like a movie in all of its precious extraordinariness — it is a narrative I create and participate in on purpose.
The arrival of that baby boy with the head of black hair was the birth of a woman who began moving her body and became moved by her own life.
The woman who struck out on her own to make the kind of work she wanted for her career.
The middle aged, vivacious, and confident woman hustling through international airports and strutting through Paris like it’s her own personal runway. Because it is.
What I thought was going to break me was the path to creating me.
Where is that story in your life? Is it happening now and you’re not sure if you’re ever going to get on the other side of it, much less see any beauty or providence in it?
Is it something long-held from long ago that you let define you as broken, beaten down, or that you’re not enough?
What if there’s a miracle inside of it? Just what if …?
I’m here to tell you that I think there is and I will never stop believing that about us — particularly about women and our lifetimes.
I help women breathe into that possibility with their bodies, their thoughts, their words, and their choices.
My desire is for a woman to be moved by her life — in every way possible, and on her terms. It is powerful and it is a privilege to serve as a loving midwife to that.
Today, I send so much love to my keiki o ka aina — my child of the islands, who is now 9 years old — a strong, compassionate, hilarious, smart and curious warrior.
Christopher Kai, your middle name means “ocean,” and you’ve taught me so much about living a big and beautiful life in our home and abroad.