I find myself getting emotional and weepy and sentimental around my kids' birthdays (which happen to be 10 days apart in the same month) I sigh, I look at my children, I look at photos of my children from a year ago and sigh again.
Perhaps all parents get this way... do you?
Birthdays are BIG days for my kids-and most American kids, I dare say. Ethiopians, on the other hand, don't really celebrate individual birthdays. Most rural or poor Ethiopians are born at home, without any medical care at all. Most Ethiopians don't remember their birth date. That our children have specific birth dates reported by their Ethiopian family is special and rare for African adoptees. My theory is that since they were both born around Easter, which is a big holiday in Ethiopia, their First parents remembered the dates.
Even so Daniel, who came home at age five, had never had a "birthday" until he turned 6 in America. He had no idea about cupcakes and presents and candles and singing and being a special prince-for-a-day. And oh boy! did he LOVE IT. So did Lily, once she got over the whole "cupcake/fire" confusion. :)
This year they are turning 3 and 7. They've been home just over 20 months. When I think about how much they have learned and grown in the past year, it astonishes me. A year ago Lily was a diaper-wearing, not-sleeping-through-the-night, not-talking, chubby cheeked baby. Daniel was just learning English and how to read and count and make friends and ride a bike. Now they are these two little independent people who sass and talk back and demand certain songs be played in the car. Who take dance classes and have baseball practice and wear underwear and demand "jeans mommy! with the pink shirt!"
What will they accomplish by next year!?
Birthdays are special days... and perhaps in a unique way in adoptive families. I didn't give birth to my children; I have no part in the story of their birth days. My 'war story' and triumphant creation of a family have different anniversaries (referral day, adoption day, homecoming day) The woman whose story it was to tell is no longer in this world. On their birthdays, I think of her. I think of their births: unattended, un-medicated... yet, from all reports, peaceful and safe. I think of how lucky they are that this was so. I think of how much they were loved from their births, even if for too short a time.
I think of how lucky I am, to be able to pick up where one mother left off. How lucky I am, to be able to marvel at their lives. How lucky I am, to celebrate their birthdays with them.