I’ve never been much of a romantic. The idea of “soul mates” always seemed a bit far-fetched for my liking.

Love, I resolved, was a choice. Not a feeling. No one could know it in an instant. This is what we realists say. We skeptics.

And then I saw her.

A picture of this perfect little girl under the table at her foster parents’ house. There was something about the twinkle in her eyes, the fire in her spirit. I knew this kid. I loved her. I missed her. Right there in my social worker’s office, looking at the picture on her computer, I knew. This was my daughter.

The next week was a blur. The thought of her made my heart rush and my breath catch in my throat. I was told more than once that I was glowing.

When we met for the first time, we were a bundle of nerves. The little girl with perfectly parted hair, averting her gaze. And the overly-talkative wanna-be mama trying too hard.

I will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t perfect. Not the first meeting. And not the rest of it.

The truth is, there were many, many moments with this passionate, strong-willed little girl when love was a choice.

This is the way with love, I think. Especially for our babies, who have lived both too much and not enough in their short years. It is a choice, this love. That is true. But to this day, I look at this picture and melt a little inside.

A skeptic turned believer in this elusive business of love at first sight.

Because of a little girl under a table.

A little girl who captured my heart.