I really have nothing to compare it to. I imagine, though, that this is the story of mamas around the world–whether our babies grew in our hearts or our wombs, whether we share blood or share souls. I am learning we are all immersed in the beautiful mystery of Mama-love.

We actually were not supposed to have our first meeting that day. The courts, paperwork, notaries. . . they were all backed up, not to mention we were learning that times for appointments there were really mere suggestions. There was always time to stop for coffee or breakfast. Even if it was 8:00 a.m. and your appointment was at 7:30 a.m., your driver still may want to stop for an espresso. We had decided to embrace these caffeine emergency delays because, more than likely, your judge, translator, and social worker might actually be at the same coffee cart outside the building doing the same thing.


Phone call after phone call from our facilitation team came in with status updates reporting that they would work to make it happen, but the delays seemed insurmountable for one day. Holding up my role in the relationship as the skeptic, I hesitated to believe we would get to see him, but I could see my husband’s eyes were brimming with anticipation. He is the type to simply jump in, sometimes without looking to see how deep or safe the water is first. I, however, like to read the rules, check for lifeguards, and make sure my swimsuit is secured tight enough it will not slip off as I slide under water (This happened once in 7th grade, and I swore in that moment: NEVER AGAIN.) If there is time, the medical nerd in me will even get on the computer to scour for evidence-based papers on the risk of the water being contaminated.

The sun was setting behind the snow-kissed skyline as we drove up the street and saw the orphanage with its green gate come into view around the corner. We were warned that the orphanage director might have gone home for the day. Escorted upstairs to a play area full of forgotten, barely-used toys, we watched with eagerness as our facilitator and the director engaged in a deep Russian discussion for several minutes. Then, the facilitator’s small frame and sweet face turned to us.

“She will go get your son now!”

I could have burst open. Burst open with sheer giddiness.


In abrupt short commands, we were instructed to prepare. Take off our coats and sit down! I felt like I could not get all my silly layers off fast enough. (You would have thought we were in Eastern Europe in the middle of winter.) Then into the room came a bundle of blue with sweet little rosy cheeks peeking out from a bonnet.

Hello, son.

I loved him instantly. I made a choice to love him instantly. A rare decisive moment came over me as I readied myself to let go of fear and jump in–not just jump, but run to the water’s edge, tuck up my knees, and cannon ball.

Because really, it is a choice. As mamas, we have to make the choice to jump in. We choose to open ourselves to the most vulnerable love I have ever experienced:


This unconditional love makes new moms melt as their precious pink baby is placed upon a tired, laboring chest after delivery as we whisper, “I love you,” not really knowing who this little one will grow to become. That doesn’t even matter does it? Mama-love is bigger than that.


I leaned in and pressed my face against his rosy chapped cheek and knew in my soul that I would be forever his, no matter what. Into the unfamiliar waters of international adoption, attachment issues, parenting special needs, and heck, parenting in general, we jumped. Not because of love at first sight but because of choice at first sight. A choice to belong together. I chose to quiet my doubts and insecurities, and when I did, I heard with each resounding beat of my heart echoing true deep in my core,

“He is my son. He is my own. I am in love.”