Although it feels crazy to actually type, D'Assise and I have been a family for one year.
Well, technically a year and two months (I intended to write this around the time of our actual "Gotcha Day" on July 19, but in true working-single-mother-fashion, I'm writing it two months later when I'm in bed with malaria and actually found the time to write).
I've been his mother for one year. He's been my son for one year.
And he's totally turned my world upside down.
We've gone to the U.S. twice together
|First time seeing snow!|
And in summer
We've celebrated his birthday
And my birthday
And New Years
|Asleep by 10 pm :)|
And my very first Mother's Day.
There have been hard times.
But there has also been joy.
so, so much joy.
Having D'Assise as my son has been the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I feel like I'm a hundred times more grateful because I felt that our family was never going to happen, not in a million years.
When I first met D'Assise, as a 22 year old Peace Corps Volunteer, I knew that I wanted him to be my son someday. I called my family back home that night and told them I wanted to adopt him. They told me that I was crazy and not to mess up my life. And that was largely the message most people gave us for the next two years: don't do this. Why not just pay for his school fees and his healthcare but not adopt him? And I doubted whether it was possible, and I questioned my own sanity for wanting to do something that so many people advised me against.
I was dubious that D'Assise would ever become my son when he started having serious health problems and we discovered he had brain lesions in 2014. I did not know whether he would survive the year.
I doubted that we would be a family even after taking him to Nairobi for treatment and learning how long and complicated the adoption process would likely be for us. Rwanda has largely barred foreigners from adopting, and there were zero successful international adoptions in several years.
Even when my lawyer and I were driving to the courthouse for D'Assise's adoption hearing last year, I could barely entertain the notion that the outcome would be a positive one. I had prepared myself for rejection because I was too scared of getting my hopes up only to have them crushed.
Here we are, five years after I first met him in the convent, as family, just living normal life. We have our little three room house together, I wake him up with the Beatles and make him breakfast as he gets ready for the day, and we bike to school together, blasting music from our speaker and talking about our hopes and fears and everything in between.
I still have to pinch myself to make sure it's not all a dream.
We read stories together every single night, and sometimes D'Assise will fall asleep before the story is even over. And sometimes I just lie there, feeling the weight of little head on my shoulder, listening to his peaceful inhales and exhales, and seeing his tiny toes peek out under the covers. No matter how tough the day has been, I feel a huge sense of gratitude that everything worked out in the end, that we were lucky enough to get the million-in-one-chance to be a family.
And it's all real.