Today you walked out of the orphanage with a malnourished, rosy-checked, stoic 8-month-old you are calling son. You are excited, but let’s be real, you are terrified and a bit overwhelmed. The green orphanage gate slams shut behind you and you climb into the car wondering what your world is going to look like now and what have you just gotten yourself into. It was one thing to say yes to adopting a little one with down syndrome from eastern Europe, but now things are real. You are holding a baby and signed paper to take him with you. FOREVER. It is happening.
You can do this. Not because you are the perfect mother or the best mother for him, but because life is going to be better together. You choose over the next couple days to jump in, to fall in love and find yourself smitten and exhausted. I warn you though, there is a day coming where there is no longer a choice, he steals the choice away from you as he will steal your heart. Not a single strand of your DNA in his blood but your soul pumps furiously through him as he captures every inch of you. This feeling doesn’t hit like a bomb but rather one day you look over and realize words like “adopted” and “biological” don’t fit when describing your family. He is simply your son.
You pull up his Ukrainian tights, smash down his faux-hawked hair with a pink bonnet the orphanage director has given you, and zip up the 2 sizes too big snow suit, naively thinking about how his world has changed and will changed because of you. Sorry past-self, you are wrong. HE is the world changer. Your world changer. He will help you celebrate not just what makes him unique but also the unique differences in those around you. Your world will turn upside down in the most chaotic wonderful way. Exhausting days full of therapy, surgeries, appointments, play dates, advocacy, consults and love. There are hard days. In parenting in general but also when it comes to parenting children with special needs. You will have moments where you feel like you are doing it wrong and weeks where you feel like every day you are winging it, living on a prayer that somehow, he turns out ok. He is worth it all. When he comes over and puts his arm around your neck, licks your face and says “mamama”; you can’t imagine it any differently. This extra chromosome is this extraordinary door to a magical world full of hope, truest friends, and love like only the “lucky few” get to experience. Today you walk out with a new world bundled in snowsuit in your arms. A world better than you could ask or imagine.