"Mommy, Johnny* told me in the bathroom today that he knew where I was born. He said I was born in Russia. He said I needed a new mommy. How did he know where I was born?"
These were the questions Dima asked me as he looked intently into my eyes through our rear view mirror on the way home from kindergarten. He wanted answers from his mom.
I took a deep breath. This was not the conversation I was planning on having that day. Instead of talking about playground games and music class, we were talking about the roots of his life, a life with many unanswered questions. These questions needed delicate answers for the ever developing mind of a five year old.
"Well, buddy. You were born in Russia. Johnny was right. You know that. We love Russia because it is the place where you were born."
"But how did he know?"
"Well, his mommy probably told him."
"How did his mommy know?"
"Well, you know how we love to tell people about how we are adopting a sister from Russia? We also tell a lot of people about how you were born in Russia. We are so proud of you and we think God has written an awesome story in our life. This is OUR family's story. It's special. We want to tell people, do you?"
"Yeah. Maybe he was born in Russia, too".
"Maybe, you should ask him. There are other kids in your class born in other countries too. Maybe you could ask your teacher to find a map and you can all point to where you were born."
"So, did I need a new mommy?"
"Well, I don't know if that's how I would say it. God always knew that I was going to be your mommy. Even though you weren't born in my tummy, God was preparing you in Ana's* tummy to be my son. And you will always be my son. Always."
"You wanna hear a joke...."
And then we went on to laugh about jokes and playground games and music time.
This story of ours is a public one. Sometimes I wonder if it's too public. Sometimes I wonder if the public nature of our story will one day be tough on our children.
But, I am a proud mama. I am proud of my son. I am proud of our story. I am proud of our daughter's life and how God has created her to be our daughter, even in her birth mother's womb.
My prayer is that God would give us the words to instill confidence in our children's lives. I pray that they would be proud of their story. I pray that they would not become bitter with the fact that people ask them questions, much more than any one else. My prayer is that they would see their story as exciting, adventurous, set apart, and special, not different, not isolating.
I often wonder if it is wrong of us to be so public in the sharing of our family story. But then my heart is always drawn back those precious moments when we arrived home with Dima for the first time.
After a LONG flight overseas, weary and worn from the travel, we stepped on to the escalator in the Cleveland airport. All of the sudden we heard cheers of "Dima! Dima! Dima!" Then we were met with lines and lines of people holding signs and gifts, offering hugs and smiles. It brings tears to my eyes (even as I write this) to go back to those moments of love and support from our community.
This same community walked with us through a two year journey of bringing our little boy home. There were tears in every eye when they saw Dima, because they anticipated his arrival as much as we did.
And we have this forever documented as a way to say to our son, "Look at ALL of the people who were so excited to finally have you home. Look at ALL of the people who love you already. Even before they knew you. Look at them all."
This is our prayer for our daughter too. We pray that she will know that there are hundreds and hundreds of people praying, giving, and working towards bringing her home. And one day soon, she will get to experience that same celebration. If I knew her name, I would be cheering it now.
Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. Though there are times that the public nature of our family's journey feels painful and scary, we also know that we could not do this without you. The prayers and encouragement, love and support that we have received as a result of you coming alongside us has been completely overwhelming. And if we kept this journey so private, we would have missed out on the blessings you have been to us!
*names have been changed for privacy
- The next set of documents we are working through are formal requests to adopt in specific regions in Russia. Once these are completed, the "paper chase" portion of our process is over.
- We are continuing to receive checks in our mailbox on an almost daily basis. Thank you! Thank you!
- We are praying even more intently for our little girl. That she would be loved and cared for. That she would be a "favorite" in the orphanage.
- We are praying for wisdom for our agency as they are placing our referral requests into a few different regions. Pray that God would direct them to the perfect little girl for our family.
Until next Monday, love, Kate, Steve & Dima.