There are moments in time that will change the very character of who you are. Pivotal moments when you say, "I will never let anyone talk to me like that again" or "It's a miracle I come out of that alive". Our international adoption journey was one of those moments that changed me forever; for more reasons than you might be thinking!
Yes, first and foremost we found our baby we had traveled the world for. I had no idea that I could love another mothers child as instantly and as intensely as I did. The moment we met our son the world stopped. I couldn't take it all in fast enough. And, the thought that another woman had given birth to him completely flew out the window, yet the magnitude of her loss and my gain was heartbreaking. before I met him I knew I would grow to love him, but I had no idea it would happen so fast for me. This was my boy, God created him specifically for me, and someone would have to fight me tooth and nail to take him back!
Along those same lines traveling to Russia, finding our son, and meeting so many people we realized people are people where ever you go. In my mind and heart I had always thought this of course, but once you experience it everything is so clear. The movies always portray Russians or other nationalities as the bad guys, this can creates a sense of national pride. In the end there are no "bad guys". The people of Russia were living lives much like we Americans. Going to Work each day to support their families. They had hobbies and friends, cell phones and dreams! We were welcomed and treated so nice by complete strangers. Most were curious about where we were from, some wanting to practice their English, and even a waiter who wanted to talk about why Russians were always the bad guys in our movies and if we still thought Russians were bad guys. Traveling abroad makes the world a little smaller, and can really make you question government propaganda. I mean, really, why can't our governments just get along or leave each other alone!
While traveling abroad makes the world feel smaller; knowing only English makes the world feel big. I love to read, and when you can't do it any more it feels so strange! Speaking, reading, and writing come so easy when you know the language! I have a new found appreciation for reading and writing. We were very thankful for our translators. From street signs to shopping centers we would have been lost without our driver and translator. I mean when you can't even read the McDonald's menu in the mall expect Big Mac...you eat a lot of Big Macs! Oh, and don't even get me started on the money! I guess I have a whole new appreciation for learning. Knowledge really is power!
And finally, the reality of humanity. While in the orphanage visiting we witnesses (not once, but at least twice) what looked like a mother bring in her child and leaving without him. This broke my heart. With the language barrier it's hard to say if that was a mother or a caseworker or whomever but the child was not happy leaving who ever had dropped him off. We had our visits in the offices and even though we could not understand them, body language is universal. The reality of poverty, alcoholism, domestic abuse is a global reality. And, even though the thought of an orphanage is sad to us as Americans we also saw the love these workers had for the children. Our son was sheltered, clothed, feed, and yes loved. His needs were met and he felt safe. He had one worker that came to get him after a visit that lit up his eyes when she walked in! At that moment I knew he was loved and cared for!
International adoption was life changing. The world is indeed a big yet small world after all. I see the world and people differently. I try my best to understand that everyone I pass has their own battles to fight and story to tell. Battles and stories that are not bigger or smaller than my own, only different. I take myself less seriously as before, because again everyone has problems, and mine are no more important than yours. I try to see each day as a gift that is not guaranteed tomorrow. I look at my boy and see the promise of his future. And, for these reasons I will forever be changed.