Agua y Amor
When Ita asked for water the first time, she said “agua”, which is Spanish for “water”. She loves to eat rice and beans, and the first time she danced, it was to a song by Puerto Rican salsero, Marc Anthony (Jennifer Lopez’s ex-husband). She loves in Spanish, too. She has learned to squeeze her moms with eyes shut tight, saying “tanto!” which means “so much”. She has my cousin’s sense of humor, my sister’s movements, my grandmother’s pensiveness, my mom’s watchful eye, and my sense of joy.
Biologically, she is not ours.
My wife (her birth mother) and her donor are White. I had to adopt her and jump through scary legal hoops to establish what everyone knew—this is my baby. My baby. Born White and culturally Puerto Rican, she’s a little White girl with the grit in her gut and glint in her eye of a Latina. Some folks can’t see our connection. This summer one man asked, “So are you her nanny?” Other folks, the folks who know that love is thicker than blood, know biology isn’t the only connection love creates. My aunt looked at Ita, looked at us and noted “but neither of you have blue eyes.” The staff at my doctor’s office whispered me over and said “Jen! She looks just like you!” I reminded them that this was a biological impossibility.
A biological impossibility.
C and I plan on taking Ita to Puerto Rico someday. We tell her all about the food she’ll eat, the sounds she’ll hear, and the agua she’ll swim in. We tell her about the friendly Puerto Ricans, her people, the ones she’ll meet and we know she’ll love the island. We know this because she is as warm as the Puerto Rican sun, and when her toes touch the sand, she will be home.