This is how I bonded with my adoptive parents.

The love a child has for a parent is extraordinary. It is unconditional and everlasting. The bond between them is immediate and unbreakable. It is unique and irreplaceable.

When I was four years old, my mom used to tuck me into bed every night. She would fix the covers just so and give me a goodnight kiss. I remember feeling dreadfully sad when she turned the light out and left the room. I missed her so much that I actually cried real tears if I moved from the position that she had left me in. I wanted to stay in the last spot of her warm embrace forever.

Mom was the leader of my Girl Scout troop when I was 6. The other girls and I had spent weeks working on a project for the town Christmas parade. We were all so excited to be able to participate. We were each going to be dressed up as Christmas gifts. We made sure the boxes were cut just right. They were wrapped in either gold or silver metallic paper. We had carefully crafted large bows to put on the front. All of us were dressed in sweatpants and sweatshirts to wear during the ride downtown. As we unloaded the vehicles into an empty lot, we noticed that the temperature had dropped considerably. It was freezing outside, and we were all complaining. We no longer wanted to walk in the parade. Mom put a big smile on her face and led us to the parade route. All the while she was bribing us with all the cookies and hot cocoa we could have when it was over.

My dad had always wanted a boy to carry on the family name. He loved fishing, hunting and sports. I was admittedly a tomboy. I loved jeans and t-shirts and climbing trees. Dad started calling me Billy any time we participated in boy activities. If I handed him tools while he worked on the car, I was Billy. When we watched Nascar races on Sunday, I was Billy. When he was baiting my hook, I was Billy. I always acted like it annoyed me, but secretly I loved it.

The bond a child has for a parent doesn’t occur with a flash of light or confetti falling from the sky.

One morning when I was 8, my dad woke me up to go fishing at 4 am. It was still dark outside. He drove me to the next town over to fish at my uncle’s pond. As we sat on the bank waiting for the fish to bite, I noticed a water moccasin at the far end of the pond. It swam back and forth on the backside, and I took pictures of it with my disposable camera. We had caught a few catfish before I noticed that I had lost track of the snake. My dad leaned over the four-foot drop-off to see if it had come over by us. Just then, the moccasin lunged straight up out of the water at his face! Dad fell backwards just in time not to get bitten, but the expression on his face made me laugh so hard I cried.

In 1992 I was 10 years old. Batman Returns had been released in theaters, and it was awesome! My cousin and I were close in age and spent most of our free time together. My mom had always made my costumes for Halloween. They looked better than the store bought ones. They were more original and better quality. That year when she asked us what we wanted to be there was no hesitation…Batman and Catwoman. I had been a baby, a nurse, a cat, but boy, that year was going to be special. I watched as my mother measured, pinned and cut the vinyl fabric. She transformed it into the coolest, most amazing costume I had ever seen. I looked like I had just stepped off the movie set, and I felt like a million bucks.

My dad was a bit of a workaholic. He decided when I was little that we should have date night once a month, just the two of us. We went to the same restaurant every time. It was a buffet just around the corner from the house. Those dates gave us some much needed time to catch up on current events. We always saved room for dessert. It was soft serve ice cream loaded with chocolate or caramel syrup. There was always an array of fresh fruit to use as a topping, but my favorite part was always the sprinkles.

As an adult, I don’t speak to my adoptive parents anymore, and that’s OK. They are still my parents, and no matter how many arguments we have or how long we go without speaking, nothing will ever change that. I have reunited with my birth family, and they are really amazing. I am fortunate to have been able to create new bonds with them.

The bond a child has for a parent doesn’t occur with a flash of light or confetti falling from the sky. Mine started the night my adoptive parents brought me home from the hospital. It continued in the days that followed as they treated me like their own child. That bond grows in the kissed boo-boos and the homemade lemonade, the school projects and the driving lessons. It lives in the day-to-day moments that make up our lives. It lives within us.