It was 7 years ago today that we were standing in a court room in Aktobe, trembling as we hoped that the judge would allow us to become the parents of this beautiful, happy baby boy we had spent several days getting to know. If I had know then what I know now about what a truly incredible son I was bringing home, I would have trembled all the more. The next day, which happened to be Mother's Day 2000, Matthew was placed in our arms for good at the orphanage. I still remember the overcast, drizzly morning like it was yesterday. We walked in the orphanage and there he was, held tightly in the arms of his favorite caretaker. As the other children who had just been adopted were being brought in to their new parents, she and I stood looking at one another, and it was obvious she didn't want to let him go. She talked to him quietly in Russian, whispering words I would have loved to be able to understand and share with him now that he is old enough to grasp their meaning. Then, the time came for us to leave, and we stood there, this woman I didn't know and I, with this tiny little boy embraced between us as we hugged. She cried and quickly turned away, and I wondered how many times she may have hugged him, spoken softly to him, over the past 11 months. It was a moment forever ingrained in my memory, one where no words were really needed to convey the depth of emotion. As we walked along the broken down cement pathway leading away from the orphanage, I rested easy in the knowledge that my son had been loved before, that he had been fortunate in this desolate place...he had 3 mommies...his birth mommy, his forever mommy, and this woman who carried him over the bridge from one life to another.
Now my almost-8-year-old son is soon to travel back to his birth country, the place where it all began. He will help ease the transition of his new brother into our family just as he did with Josh. His compassion and maturity will no doubt surprise me, although by now you would think I would be used to it. His humor will relax the tension in all of us at this special, yet stressful time of our lives. He will comfort and tend to Joshie as he often does, he will somehow sense when I need a hug and be right there with open arms and a grin that has always been the light of my life since that first day we met him alone in an isolation room at the orphanage. His intelligence will be tested as he shares his insights about the logistics of this trip, ideas that will find Dominick and I looking at one another as we often have in the past with him and saying "Hmmm...that IS a good idea, why didn't we think of that?".
My son, shown in the photo shared here on the day we left the orphanage, was the best Mother's day gift I could have ever asked for. In fact, as I have often said, I couldn't even have "ordered" two children as wonderful, interesting, and sweet-hearted as mine. Now, as we approach yet another Mother's Day, it carries special meaning this year. The excitement of our impending travel to once again become parents to a very, very special little boy is reinforced by the memory of the joy we experienced that cold, misty day 7 years ago. My, how the time has flown! My, how my baby has grown! My, what a man he will become.
Matthew, my dear "first" son, you may no longer be my oldest, but you will always be my first born in my heart. You are the child that showed me what I had been missing all those childless years. You are the sunshine that brightens my world with so many rainbow colors. I love you dearly.
"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be..."
Thank you Matthew, for making me a mommy. Nite nite sweetheart.