Each of us have days in our lives that mark significant milestones. Today is one of those days for me . Our youngest child and only daughter graduates from high school this evening and I cannot lie…I am not doing well with it.  Simply put, it is a bitter sweet time as my husband and I are very excited for her and for what lies ahead in her future but she is after all, our baby girl. After the three boys, she has been a whirlwind of baby dolls, dressing up, giggles, shopping, fashion, slumber parties, and all the fun things that having a girl is all about.  The truth is that it is a true miracle that she is our daughter. You see , Kasey is adopted from another country and that makes her unique, special. She has always known from the time that she was old enough to understand that her daddy traveled to her homeland, chose her out of a whole country of babies and brought her home to our family which was God’s plan all along. From the time that she could walk and talk we have explained to her that when her three older brothers were born , we were simply stuck with whatever arrived in the delivery room…no choice in those arrivals…no sir. I mean, let’s face it folks, you are handed your little off spring and that’s all there is to it…sort of like going through the lunch line in elementary school. No choices, no questions of would you like to pick this or would you like to have that ? Oh no, that mystery meat is deposited on your tray, you are handed the fruit of the day and you are on your way, no questions asked or entertained. I am not trying to sound mean here, but I will never forget the experience with the birth of our first baby. Just as he was being born and traveling through the birth canal, he decided to have his first bowel movement. He succeeded in following through with that decision and then also succeeded in sliding through it thus ingesting some of his waste, shall we say into his nostrils, his mouth and it was feared, his lungs. Because of his timing of his very first potty break, he had to be whisked away and cleaned up for a good half hour and then was taken to the nursery. About another three or four hours later, after I was out of the recovery room, we were told that we could go visit our precious first born in the nursery. I was sore and exhausted but so very anxious to see and hold our precious little bundle of joy…that’s what they always call newborns , right?... little bundles of joy… So off we go, my husband and I ….two twenty-two year old kids nervously trudging through the hospital nursery. We gingerly walked by row after row of gorgeous rosy cheeked absolutely beautiful babies..perfect shaped heads, little rose bud mouths, totally adorable. I even remember asking “Is it just me or are all of these babies just exceptionally beautiful?” The nurse nodded in agreement and said “No, you are right, most of these babies were caesarean births and caesarean babies are usually just gorgeous as they did not have to go through the trauma at birth.”  Uh oh…My husband and I looked at each other , said nothing but we each knew what the other was thinking. I had just gone through 26 hours of grueling labor, we had driven back and forth to the hospital over the mountains of Oahu where we were stationed in the military. He had hit every possible pot hole along the way…no , never mind, we would not allow ourselves to go there in our minds. We knew we had given birth to a boy so we were looking for one of the little portable type cribs that had a blue ticket on it. We inched along seeing one terrifically cute baby after another and then we laid eyes on a baby.. a little bundle of joy. The baby had two red strawberry marks, one right between the eyes, one on the back of the head, the ears seemed to be as big as my husband’s, the one side of the baby’s face was smooshed in ..that is the only word that aptly describes it and I remember praying a quick prayer. I said “ Lord, let me see a pink ticket on the end of this crib. Please Lord, think pink, think pink, think pink…” But I  saw blue. I also saw the name HASTINGS written very clearly in big blue lettering on the card. At that very moment, I fell in love with our son. We picked him up, we nestled him and we both cried because we were overjoyed. Through tears, we both remember    saying to each other “We have the ugliest baby in the nursery” and then we laughed and then cried again. It was true that his initial “ugly” appearance was indeed due to the trauma of the birth because within a few days he was also scoring high marks in the “cute” category. Today he is a strapping handsome thirty year old husband and dad of two beautiful children of his own . I included that story however because this is the hilarious story that we have told Kasey as she grew up. It was simply a funny way to get her to understand that it was not so with her. Unlike the birth of her brothers, we chose her.  My husband trekked through the rural country side and found her in a village with a very young birth mother who was a strong, selfless young girl . She loved her baby so incredibly much that she wanted my husband to take her to be part of our family. She knew that if Kasey was not adopted by us , that she would live a very different life than what  she was going to live with us. She knew that her little baby may have struggled to even survive because of the poor and harsh conditions of her environment. Kasey’s birth mother was a picture of silent strength and courage as  she gave us a precious gift that changed our entire family and all of our lives forever. Our daughter arrived at our home in Virginia on her six month birthday.   My husband pulled up in front of our house and climbed out of the car with her in his arms and when he handed her to me, I buried my face in her little neck and cried. Our boys were four, eight and eleven years old at the time and they gazed at this new little arrival on the front yard that day sort of overwhelmed by it all. Oh, they knew she was coming, but finally seeing her as part of us, in our front yard was sort of shell shocking. As I studied her in my arms her eyes were bright, striking and wide open as she stared at me.  I saw how she provided a  sharp contrast to my blonde headed sons with her black hair and dark eyes. I was shaking a bit as I cradled her in my arms and every fiber of my being was rejoicing that I was holding my little girl for the very first time. Eighteen years have passed since that day in our front yard and what a fun joyous journey it has been! Now, tonight she walks across that platform in a cap and gown and into her future. She leaves for college in just three short months which does not seem possible. You may be thinking “What is she like?” She is beautiful , not just on the outside but the inside as well. She is vivacious, hilarious, fun loving, unpredictable, compassionate , talented and quite honestly I do not have enough room on this paper to describe her fully. She can also be impulsive , stubborn , infuriating, and testy and as ironic as this sounds, I will miss those parts of her just as much. We spend countless hours talking about everything, sharing thoughts , teasing each other, laughing together and locking horns at least once every day. She is the little girl that I earnestly prayed for and God’s answer to that specific prayer. I did not have morning sickness the months before or labor pains the hours before I first held her nor did I search a hospital  crib for a pink ticket to make sure she was ours, but make no mistake about it, she is my precious baby. I love her the same as I would have had she had grown inside of me and she has always been secure in that knowledge. She completed our family and tonight,  all of us will be there to celebrate with her…our three sons are all grown now and married , two of them with children of their own. We will be both proud of and thankful for our Kasey , her achievement and the blessing of her life meshed with ours. If you are a believer, I ask you to pray for her and pray for me tonight. I cannot help but think that as she walks across that stage to accept her diploma, that I will undoubtedly be remembering my husband with her in his arms walking across that yard just eighteen years ago. Congratulations baby girl..it is time to step out into this big crazy world and to make a difference. I love you Kasey!