“I imagine, at 10:30 in the morning, what you are doing inside the orphanage you have called home for the first 11-months of your life. Do you feel our presence as we enter your country? Do you know that mommy and daddy are coming?”
-Michelle Madrid-Branch, Over Miles and Time: A Russian Adoption Journal, Adoption Australia, 2005
I can remember the moment when I first met my son, Ian Viktor. It was a very warm, summer day in southern Russia. I was tired from a long journey, I was nervous and filled with anticipation. What will the moment be like when I meet my little one? What will it feel like when orphanage workers place him in my arms?
“I take a deep and soulful breath. Exhale. The journey has been long and at times, like your native country, almost epic.”
I was absolutely elated when I met Ian. The fatigue melted away, the nerves disappeared, as I cuddled my boy, cheek-to-cheek. I will never forget the moment when we were delivered as mother and son.
It is 6:00 in the morning, in Spain. I can hear a rooster busy with his wake-up call, just down the road. I quietly tip-toe into Ian’s room. I watch him sleep for several minutes, his little face so sweet and content. Ian will turn seven-years old, this week.
I have had the pleasure of watching Ian grow, of being the woman he calls mommy. I think of Ian’s birthmother, as I leave his room. “Thank you for this gift,” I whisper in the darkness. “Thank you for my son.”
It is often said that adoption helps children, without families, find a better future. This may be true, for I was one of those children and adoption has offered me a better life. However, I am more prone to say that adopting a child finds the adoptive parent growing in ways that could never have been foreseen. I am far greater simply because Ian is in my life. He has taught me so much, he teaches me well.
Ian lives life to the fullest, he fills every second of life’s cup with joy and curiosity. Up to the rim, he fills his cup with love and laughter, spilling his zest for living over to all who will taste of it. In the orphanage, workers called Ian,Vitya, a nickname of sorts. I continue to use this name for him. He is my Vityaand I love him with all that I am. I often write of Vitya, and of our experiences together. In many ways, he is a poem to me, sweeping across my heart:
Vitya gallops across an Argentine meadow.
His pony, named Torito, overshadows Vitya in size.
“Faster, mommy, faster!”
I gain on them.
My horse, Indio, is not one to lose a race.
As I reach my son, he holds one hand out to me.
Not an ounce of fear runs through Vitya’s veins.
I take his hand and, together, we ride.
I feel so alive!
Vitya teaches me how to live. How to be free.
In Russia, they said he might never walk.
That was wrong.
Today, I soak in the treasure of love all around me. I fill my cup with joy and laughter, like a child, I thrill in the miracle of life. I let go of the reins that hold me back. Today, I live. Today, I soar!