Thursday, March 20, 2008

Two Birthdays

On March 12, my youngest son, green-bottle boy, turned 10. It's hard for me to believe all that's happened in these 10 years. His birth was the catalyst for so many choices we would eventually make with our family -- namely, the decision to adopt. When I was almost 5 months pregnant with him, a routine ultrasound revealed that green-bottle boy had a birth defect with his brain.

I was floored by the news, alone for the ultra sound (it wasn't the first and wouldn't be the last, so we didn't think we both needed to be there for it). The doctor was baffled by what was then referred to as a "mysterious bump" on his head. The mystery of it was unnerving -- it could be absolutely nothing, brain protruding though the skull or a fatty tumor. We spent the next 4 months dealing with the shock and grief involved in know that something was wrong, but not knowing what, and unsure of if he would even live.

However, on March 12 Green-Bottle Boy made his loud debut, and three weeks later had brain surgery to correct what was then diagnosed as a cranial menegecil. He made a complete and total recovery -- in fact, he smiled his first smile the evening after his brain surgery.

He was an easy going, lovable baby with a great sense of humor. The next year flew by quickly, and we drove home to my parents to celebrate his birthday -- the weekend following his actual date, the weekend of March 20, 1999.

Also on March 20, 1999, in a small city in Ukraine, unbeknownst to us, our oldest daughter was born. Her birthparents, I'm certain, had no prior knowledge of her birth defects. The shock and grief they faced on a day that they likely thought would be full of joy, was probably only increased by the negative attitudes of the doctors and nurses who should've been there to encourage and support them. But instead, likely insisted that she should be turned over to the state, that her disabilities couldn't be handled by them and that she would probably just die anyway.

I've often thought back to the irony of the fact that while I was happily celebrating the birthday of my son, far away on the other side of the world, a couple was grieving the loss of their daughter. And our daughter, an infant though she was, was grieving the loss of all that sounded and felt normal to her. I also think it's interesting that because we celebrated green-bottle boy's birthday exactly 8 days after the actual date, I remember what I was doing the day my daughter was born.

I'd be lying if I said that on her birthday I don't think of her birth parents. I do, and I suspect that at some level she does too. I'm certain that they remember that today is the anniversary of her birth. As a Mom, I know that this date must be carved into her birthmother's memory whether she wants it there or not. I wonder if they have peace, if they know Christ, and if they know that they are forgiven. I wonder if, on each March 20, they grieve for what was lost. I also wonder if they know what a great life she now has, and if they have any inkling of all the joy that they have missed over the years. I wonder if they have any idea how God's hand protected our daughter, guiding to a great orphanage and then home to a family on the other side of the world. I wonder if they have any idea how incredibly grateful we are that they left her in safe hands, and that we have been given such a tremendous gift by them.

So now, Green-bottle boy and Swimmer Girl are best friends. They love having birthdays one after another, and the are like two peas in a pod. But, I 've always really thought that they were joined long before they ever met, and you can't have one without the other.

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