Nine years ago today, I met my daughter Samantha.

Meeting your daughter in an office building in China is a tiny bit different from giving birth.

She was 9.5 months old, and not happy to be there. She had just been driven for four hours in the arms of an orphanage worker to meet her new parents, who probably looked to her like space aliens. Her first few minutes in my arms were spent crying and pushing against my chest. Her clothes were soaked with pee from a bursting diaper, and snot was pouring out of her nose. I cried too. I don’t know what I felt more strongly – love or empathy.

Sam cried and cried, with a determined persistence that I would soon learn is a hallmark of her personality. I knew that this was a very healthy reaction, and was grateful to see her tears even as I tried to calm them.

When Sam finally stopped crying, she became very quiet and looked around her intently to assess the situation. By the following morning she was laughing. Her transformation was stunning and quick. Here’s a photo of her the day after we met, right after we signed the legal adoption paperwork.

Sam had obviously been well cared for, and well fed. But still she ate with incredible vigor, laughing while she grabbed the chopsticks in my hand and shoved them into her mouth. She laughed when her daddy threw her up in the air and caught her, again and again.  People in restaurants frequently came over to watch her eat, and to laugh at her. She made us laugh too.

Shortly after we brought Samantha home to Toronto, I started Red Thread.  I started very small, cutting and sewing in my basement during her naptime. Thankfully she was a good sleeper! I loved a Chinese proverb that we had heard throughout our adoption journey, about red threads uniting people who were meant to be together, even across vast distances, and so I named my little business Red Thread Design.

Nine years later, Samantha continues to make us laugh. She loves stuffed animals, graphic novels, and hanging out with friends. Red Thread is a little bigger too, shipping out to children around the world. I try to keep the original inspiration for Red Thread, the proverb about human interconnectedness, at the centre of my business as best I can. Here’s Samantha now, at age nine (below), in a short video about our charitable ‘Love Dress’ project, which is now wrapping up (I have just a few Love Dresses left).  I wonder how she will feel as an adult, looking back and seeing what an inspiration she was to me.

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