I had been given the appointment at 9am that Friday morning. As we drove around the corner to the convent, we were sitting in silence, both excited and nervous. I rang the bell to the nun's small mansion which stood quietly behind a lighting mega store. We waited. There was no response. After a few minutes I rang again starting to sweat in the hot July morning sun. The door clicked open and we slowly moved through.
We entered into a walled-in courtyard with garden and children's toys scattered among the rose bushes. To the right of us was a nun-mobile; tired and well-used. We walked to the main door in silence. An older lady opened the door. All I can remember was short hair, a men's short-sleeved shirt and a look on her face of complete confusion. She introduced herself as the Mother superior.
I suddenly saw the social worker, a 50-something, grey-haired, pony-tailed stereo-type who looked like he needed a good feed. He bustled past and took me aside, blocking the entry to the mansion.
"The Mother superior doesn't want to give you your daughter today. She is ill and hasn't been eating. The nuns want you to come back on Tuesday after her next doctor's appointment,"he said nervously.
I looked at him stony-faced. "I am not leaving here today without my daughter."
The past two days had been an absolute whirlwind since that initial phone call. I had rushed down to the adoption offices on the Wednesday full of excitement. The social worker had welcomed me and invited me to take a seat. He had a blue paper folder in his hands. As he opened the folder I tried to scan as much information as possible. Before he started speaking I had already seen the words "girl, 7 months, profoundly deaf."
That is when I fell in love for the first time in my life.
He went through my daughter's profile which was shocking at the very least. She had been born on the pauper's floor in a town to the south. The biological mother was homeless, a drug addict and had had no idea she had been pregnant. The only good deed the mother had done was sign over this wee soul to the social services immediately after the birth. I can never thank her enough for this.
I truly believe that from the moment of her conception, my daughter had been destined to be with me.
From the poor house she had been taken to the local hospital for a check-up and then onto the provincial capital for more check-ups. In my head my daughter had been rejected once, twice, three, four, five times. I was the sixth person in her very short life and I was not going to let her go – ever.
Now it was Friday, a mere two days later and I had to find a way to persuade these nuns to let me have my daughter.
It is fascinating sharing my story of these first days and experiences with my daughter. I wonder at my strength and sureness in overcoming obstacles alone during the whole adoption process. I worked through great moments of self-doubt when even people I loved questioned my ability (and sanity).
But where did that strength and purpose come from?
Just as I was writing this question, the Universe gave me the answer.
I received a WhatsApp message from the UK.
It was from my ex-girlfriend from university who told me she would be talking about me on Loose Women (UK version of The View), where she has been one of the panelists for a number of years.
As I watched I was thrust back in time to that very phone call when I came out to her. She is right; we had grown up together and had shared many firsts. I loved her and I could have so easily continued living that life; the one expected of me by others.
But, as I look back I realize now that that phone call marked a watershed in my life. It is the moment when I found the strength to take control. I found the strength to stop hurting people and allow them to experience the real me. It gave me the strength to start loving me for me.
That strength made it clear that I could no longer lie to the ones I loved, including my girlfriend. I knew that she would suffer, and that I needed to be there for her, but that eventually she could move on and find true happiness herself. I had no right to deny her that.
From that moment on, my strength and purpose have grown. Truth, love and self-ownership have given me the strength to fight on; to fight for me and fight for my daughter.
Love you Saira x