For three days, I have two two-year-olds. But, today, I have one with a birthday.
I really love this kid. Because none of what makes him amazing can be genetically attributed to me, I feel very free to brag about him. I tell everyone how smart he is and how he is talking so much earlier than my other two were at this age. How he can count to, like 17, depending on the day. How I've been too busy to teach him one darn thing, but how he knows absolutely everything, as if his brain is extra-spongey.
I look at him, and the ease with which he accomplishes everything, and it is easy for me to predict what he is going to be when he grows up: a soccer play, a football player, an actor, a singer, a dancer. So, pretty much he is going to have a very risky career path, but it will ultimately be very fulfilling and make lots of others jealous.
When he was still in the orphanage, our friend/advocate wrote to me and said "He loves to smile." I was filled with a moment of pride (as if I, having never met this 6 month old baby, had a thing to do with it) and then the cynic in me took over and I was filled with dread. What if that goes away? I thought. What if he comes home with us and he doesn't smile and I'll know it wasn't just his melancholy personality but that he used to love to smile and then he met me and never smiles again?
When a child has a birthday, the mother usually posts some pictures of what they looked like on their birth-day, and goes through a series of "A year ago, I was rushing to the hospital" or "Two years ago today I became a mother." Even with my other two, there's a sense that their birthday is more than a little bit about me. In fact, Ben used to give me presents on Simon's birthdays because I did all the work.
Hmmm. Two years ago, a child was born but I was not his mother. His birthday is not about me. But it's no less sentimental. It's a celebration of the day his story began. It's a recognition that we don't need to know the details of those beginnings to hold them sacred. It's a prayer for his birth mother and for Charlie that God would heal any hurt that took root two years ago.
When I picked him up from childcare at the Y today, he yelled "Mommy!" An older boy looked at him and said emphatically, "That is not your mommy." I said, "I am his mommy." The boy looked at me, looked at Charlie, and said, "But you're white and he's black so I didn't think you could be his mommy." I explained to him what adoption is, and have never been so proud to say, "So, I am his mommy."
Because it's his birthday, and I don't need memories of his birth to know it happened and to know that it changed my life.