One year ago today…

 

One year ago, in a sunny government office in China, a reluctant—frightened, actually—20-month-old boy was placed in our arms.

Today he runs at us with so much energy and excitement he could knock us over.

One year ago we marveled at our little boy’s deep brown eyes, his wisps of hair, and sweet pink lips.

Today his hair bounces as he jumps around the yard, his eyes sparkle with mischief, and his lips are always moving—talking, talking, talking.

One year ago he was wearing a vibrant orange SpongeBob outfit we knew his big brother would envy.

Today he has an opinion about his wardrobe—if there’s not a vehicle or a character on the shirt, he wants it to go back in the drawer.

One year ago when we met him, he was clinging to a little plastic bag of cookies and crackers. We couldn’t interest him in a bowl of congee, Chinese rice porridge, which was supposed to be a favorite.

Today he wants to eat the whole bowl of tomato sauce, noodles, grapes, and a popsicle for dessert. And he’s always the last one to leave the table.

One year ago our baby boy cried in our arms, holding onto us as we—strangers from the other side of the world who loved him even before we met him—tried to reassure him in English and the bits of Mandarin we knew. (He knew only Cantonese.)

Today when he cries it’s because he needs a Bandaid, a hug, or a referee in a battle over a toy.

One year ago he couldn’t fall asleep unless he was pressed up against his Mama—the whole night.

Today he sings along with me as I sing “Toora Loora Loora” and then goes to sleep without a sound. Then as he’s getting dressed in the morning, he groggily says, “Back in my bed.”

One year ago we met our younger son, whose picture we had seen five months earlier. He was confused and sad and scared. He was leaving everything and everyone he had ever known to join our family—and he was unprepared. He was too young to understand, and too old not to have been told what was happening. But his nannies at the orphanage hadn’t wanted to upset him, and there we were.

In that government office, as other families were created around us, we all cried together. Later that night our little boy gave us his first smiles and, in his sweet scratchy voice, he called us “Mama” and “Baba” for the first time.

Today our boy is confident and opinionated. His third birthday is still months away, but he insists that he’s five. He loves helicopters, Mater, playgrounds, and—when he grows up—he wants to be a fire truck man.

One year ago a 20-month-old boy was placed in our arms, and he became our son forever.

That day, today, and every day in between, we thank God for giving us a son and for giving Leo a brother. We are truly blessed.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.