By Vicky DeCastro
Two years ago, on June 17, 2013, “I” became a “we.” That was the day I became a first-time mom to my then 2.5-year-old daughter, Mila Rose Huimin. Two years ago, I knew I wanted to become a mom more than anything in this world, yet I wasn’t actually certain what being a mom meant, and I definitely didn’t understand what it meant to be an adoptive mom. Two years ago, I knew I had fallen in love with the sweet girl in my pictures and in my dreams, but I couldn’t have predicted the amazing depth of the love I would have for her nor could I be certain she would love me back. Two years ago, on a very hot summer day, we were strangers meeting for the first time in the Civil Affairs Office in Nanjing, Jiangsu, and I wasn’t certain this beautiful little girl with the sad, forlorn face would ever smile again.
I had so many questions about adoption at the beginning of my journey. When I first decided to adopt, it took me 6 months just to put in my application. My desire to be a mom was as strong as ever, but honestly, I still wasn’t convinced I could do it. Could I go from being a single person to being a single mom? How would I manage with work, especially since my job was very demanding? Could I possibly provide for a child with special needs? Do I really have a lifestyle that could support a child? One of my dear friends, a single mom of three internationally adopted children, gave me the best piece of advice, “kids adapt as long as you share your life and lifestyle with them.” These words provided me with the courage to take the first step and apply with All God’s Children International. . .and I never looked back. Thank the Lord!
During the 18-month “paperwork” pregnancy, it seemed as though adoption was just endless paperwork, background and health checks, financial reviews, and lots of waiting. Then, on the AGCI Waiting Child list, the sweet face of “Lillian” caught my eye in November of 2012. There was a twinkle in her eye and a smile that captured my heart. She was almost 2 and had cerebral palsy. It took me about a week to gather the courage to even ask for her file. I was scared. Was “Lillian” my daughter or someone else’s? Was I strong enough to handle the heartache if she was not my daughter? I received her file on December 2, 2012 and had 72 hours to decide if I wanted to accept her referral. Next came 72 hours of praying, soul searching, and consultations with my international pediatrician, family, and friends. On December 5, 2012, I officially said “yes!” Once again, I never looked back.
Now two years later, what do I know for certain? I know that I grow more and more in love with this little girl every day. I know that this little girl loves me with infinite passion and lives life with endless tenacity. I know that being a single mom doesn’t mean doing it ALL on my own. Being a single mom is about building a community of support of family and friends for Mila and me. I know that she not only has a smile that lights up the world, but a laugh that makes my heart leap every time I hear it. I know that when she cries in sadness or grief, my heart breaks over and over again, and I would move heaven and earth to make the pain go away. I know that when she challenges me with her anger, I have to patiently show her the way back to a place of safety, security, and love. I know that my daughter’s stubborn determination is why she has both survived and thrived. I know that providing for and parenting this child with cerebral palsy, even with its challenges, is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. I know my life is finally as it should be. I feel as if Mila has always been in my life, yet nearly every experience feels like it happened yesterday. Every moment being her mom, from wonderful to ugly, is a cherished new experience for me. I know that I am a better woman because of my daughter, and that while my career (although incredibly important) will not define my legacy—being mom to this amazing girl from the other side of the world will. She has made me pause, take a breath, and enjoy the moments in life in the way that only a child can experience. I smile bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. She is the best decision I have ever made in my life. But wait, there is more! Little did I know, the adoption of this one little girl would open up a new adventurous world for me.
Two years ago, my adoption journey was my own personal story. I had no idea my journey would lead me to a blessed community of families and advocates brought together in undeniable bonds that span the world. I never would have predicted two years ago, that the love of this one little girl would lead to the honor of advocating and praying for other beautiful children—children I have never met. I didn’t know I would expand my circle of friends to include so many adoptive and hopeful families with the shared wishes and dreams for these beautiful children. How lucky am I to be able to provide a voice for some very brave children in China, orphans who need and deserve to have loving families of their own. I have the blessing of celebrating every time a family is united with their child or when a waiting child is matched with his or her forever family. I am privileged to share in the stories of children and families I have never met, and I know that my life has been infinitely enriched to know and care about them. Two years ago, I could never had imagined that my own journey into adoption, that the “I” becoming a “we,” would actually lead me to this community. For all of this, I am truly blessed.
To learn more about international adoption through AGCI, click here.