Milestone: Her First Day of Kindergarten


We had a lot of late night conversations the months after our son was born. I wanted to adopt. My husband Mark didn’t feel the same. He wasn’t opposed to adoption; he’s sort of . . . well . . . more like opposed to noise and chaos. A man who enjoys peace and quiet who has a needy 4-year-old, an independent 2-year-old, a still-unfolding-from-the-womb infant and a wife talking about adopting a fourth child = noise and chaos in every way.

Many of those conversations ended with me saying this:

"I’m afraid that if we don’t do it, we’ll regret it the rest of our lives. I know that when we put her on the bus for Kindergarten, we’ll look at her and say, ‘I’m so glad we did it.’ "

I don’t really know why that particular image equaled the image of parental contentment and joy for me. At the time I was speaking those words and imagining the day, I had not yet put even one child on a school bus. I think I identified that moment as a new chapter, when my baby would leave the season of babyhood and become a little girl, when my role as mother would not be over by any means or even get any easier but it would change dramatically. No longer would I be essentially the only influence in her little life; now, I would have to coach her to use discernment with other influences.

I clung to that image of a blurred dark-haired little girl climbing bus stairs too big for her and wearing a backpack that extended beyond her shoulders through our process of saying yes to adoption and eventually yes to her specifically. Over the last four years, that image remained a blur until this week.This week, my baby put on a quintessential Kindergarten dress with blue Mary Janes. She asked for two braids, one on each side. She put on a backpack extending beyond her tiny frame full of sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, fresh crayons and classroom tissues. And she stepped outside for a new adventure.

She said she wasn’t nervous, only “ 'cited.” She played the part, smiling big for the camera at the bus stop where moms and dads took pictures of their children too.

And then we gathered around her to pray for her. And she got a little more serious. And so did I.

The bus took forever, a literal reminder every minute of the significance of the moment every stop along the way to us. Every mom was saying goodbye to her baby. Every baby was thinking about things, wondering what color carpet square she’d get or if she’d make a friend that day.I think some babies maybe thought about things a little more than others.

Until flashing lights were in sight.

And loud brakes were heard.

And big doors opened to what seemed like even bigger steps.

And it was time to go. Just like that. She grabbed the railing and climbed the stairs.

My baby.

My little girl.

No longer an image in my imagination but my daughter.

She looked back. And, I couldn’t look away.

And then, my heart rode away on a big yellow school bus.


Kelly Raudenbush is a mother to four children and cofounder of The Sparrow Fund, a nonprofit committed to encouraging and equipping adoptive families. Learn more about her family's adoption story, how she's been changed by it and what life for as a parent to four children with all sorts of unique needs and gifts at My Overthinking.


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