How do you explain the brutal and unexplainable? Can emotion, intuition, and love help us heal from things that should completely crush us?

Those were some of my thoughts when, her first night here, our daughter-to-be burst into uncontrollable sobs, shrieking for the mother who’s abandoned & failed her.

It was completely understandable: the girl’s move here from a foster home does mean it’s unlikely she’ll ever live with her mother again, though she doesn’t consciously know this. And, of course, what 4-year-old could understand living in a new place with new people all of a sudden, however nice they are?

But what took me most by surprise, and what I take as a very good sign, is that it’s so unlike her to have this kind of outburst. She can brood, she talks about her worries, and she, miraculously, laughs and plays. She’s had fun visiting us and getting to know us. But she shows a careful face to the world, and she seems cautious not to ask for too much. So her outpouring of raw grief and want was startling, out-of-character, and hopeful. It seemed like a leap into trusting us with her true self.

I was grateful for my many years of touchy-feely California training! Somehow I knew I to react like she was a 1-year-old. I bundled her into my lap, rocking her like a baby and letting her cry. I tried to offer love but also really tried not to want to take away how she’s feeling, however painful it is to hear. She’s completely right to feel this way. What’s happened really sucks.

The storm must have lasted 15 heart-piercing minutes. That’s really quite an exertion for any of us, and when she calmed down and had some warm milk, I felt we’d all taken a huge step into our future.

Of course I wish she could have this outburst and be done, move on. And I know that’s ridiculous. But I also know that incredible, impossible things happen when we love each other. She will always carry this pain of not getting something that really should be a human birthright. But her willingness to plunge in, to say in effect “OK, life’s given me two gay guys and I might as well see if they can handle all this” I find thrillingly brave.

This morning, after a long night sleep, she was cheerful and ready for a day’s domestic adventures. Whatever happens next, I feel we’re off to a great start. She’s going to give her all, and more. We’re going to be blessed by this fierce, determined child, and I can’t wait.