As my eleven-year-old, adopted daughter said “Bye Dad!” and hung up the phone before rushing off to the bus stop for school, it occurred to me how close my husband and daughter have become over the years. He travels often for business and every morning he is away, he calls to sing her a little “Good Morning” tune he made up when she was first born. It’s natural for a father-daughter relationship to thrive, but the remarkable thing is the transformation of my husband, who never thought he needed a third child.
I recall my desperate feelings nineteen years ago when, after my second son was born, my husband refused to consider having a third child, even though he knew how much I wanted a daughter. My mother had passed away and losing her was devastating. Our mother-daughter relationship was the most important thing to me. I loved my two sons but I always knew I wanted that same relationship with my own daughter. When my mother died, it made that desire much more intense. It took some time for me to recover from the grief while dealing with an infant and busy toddler, without my mother’s help. Reaching the milestone of both boys in school full-time was monumental and only then, did I feel ready to raise a third child myself. By then, my husband could see that my dream of a daughter would never fade, even when he tried to fill the void with a puppy. Needless to say, it didn’t change a thing. The journey through late-stage infertility and adoption brought my husband and me much closer, and he began to understand why having a daughter meant so much to me.
As soon as our daughter was born, my husband shifted from indifference about a third child to being an adoring father who can’t stand to leave town without his daughter. Gone are the days of leaving the children home with a babysitter to take an “adult” vacation. He prefers she accompanies us everywhere we go and doesn’t ever miss a bedtime tucking. If he’s away on business, he calls before her bedtime and again in the morning before school. Now that she’s almost a teenager, the bedtime routine and morning song are a bit tedious for her and I chuckle at the frequent eye-rolls behind his back.
My husband is just as excited about our daughter’s piano and choir performances as I am. He adores watching her interact with her friends and indulges us both by shopping for the latest teen clothing trends when we travel together. His interest in her activities, schoolwork, athletic pursuits, and social life is admirable for a busy man who thought he was overwhelmed with two sons. I doubt he can even remember the days he thought the father-daughter relationship weren’t essential for him.
As Father’s Day approaches, I am reminded of the many blessings in my life; A loving husband who advocates for and encourages all of us, then two wonderful sons who have grown up to be responsible, determined adults, and finally a daughter who can dance and sing with the girlish girls or run, kick and play with the most athletic boys at school.
To mothers of sons who have mentioned to me their desire to complete their family with a daughter, my advice is to move forward and live your dream. To fathers who are currently resisting their partners’ interest in having more children, I urge you to open your heart to the possibility that it might be the best thing you ever do.
Patty Lazarus is the author of a new book about adoption titled “March into My Heart: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters, and Adoption.” www.marchintomyheart.com