This realization pierced my heart the other night as we were finally going through all that Ukrainian paperwork, trying to make sense of it all. And there it was - between the Decree of Abandonment and his Certificate of U.S. Citizenship.
His mama's face. I saw it on her passport photo. And I realized - he looks just like his mama.
She is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
Okay - maybe I'm biased. Maybe.
As I walked out to the living room to snatch a hug from our brand-new 3 year old, I saw her. I saw her all over his face. His soulful eyes. His pouty lips. His arched brows. It's all her.
We know that Carter's parents visited him regularly for quite some time. The visits stopped when they adopted a healthy Ukrainian child...and I can't help but wonder if Carter missed her. I don't limit Carter's capacity to understand things like this, despite the fact that he has Down syndrome. He knows that he was loved during those three months that he was taken home after he was born. He felt his mama's touch as she nursed him for those three months - and I know it was a gentle, loving touch. I know, because I see that same gentle, loving touch in him. He is kind and tender - those are traits not learned in an orphanage.
Do you know what that tells me?
He remembers. He remembers love. He remembers his mama's face, maybe.
Without a doubt, there are some things that he remembers.
In some ways, this breaks my heart. When going through all that paperwork, the 'Decree of Abandonment' stuck out to me. Decree of Abandonment. Just the words sound so cold and icy. I can't help but think that it would be easier if he forgot his messy past. If he forgot that he was abandoned by a mama and papa who cared for him for 3 months - maybe life would be easier. If he forgot that he spent 3+ years in an orphanage, receiving no love and minimal care - maybe life would be better.
I don't know. I guess we'll never know. But what a gift to be able to tell our son that his birth parents had great love for him. That despite 'abandoning' him, they tried so hard to make it work. They tried so hard to fight against their society and their culture. They tried so hard to keep him.
And they really, truly, absolutely loved him.
He was 'meant' to be theirs, and they tried so, so hard to make it work. For that, we are forever grateful.
One Thing I Know For Sure: What a gift...