Our journey with Cadman's birth family began the moment we walked out of court, just minutes after the judge approving the adoptions. We had barley made it out of the building when our facilitator stopped us to ask if we were available for dinner. She told us Cadman's birth parents wanted to meet us. I panicked. Although the judge had just approved the adoption, the approval began a 10 day waiting period where either adoption could be petitioned. What if this was a test? What if this was to see if they approved of us adopting their son? If we said or did something wrong would they tell the judge they changed their minds? Bill would be leaving for the airport at 4am the next morning to fly back so it had to be that night.
We met at a restaurant just down from our apartment, sitting outside on the patio to enjoy the beautiful evening. They spoke no English and we, of course, spoke no Ukrainian or Russian. One of the drivers for the team came to translate. I was so struck by her beauty, immediately seeing that Cadman gets his big beautiful blue eyes from her. It was the beauty of her spirit that touched me. She was so broken. The long months since Cadman's birth had wrecked her, left her helplessly waiting for a family for her beloved son, a son who society told her she could not keep, raise or support in the ways she wanted for her son. Medical professionals and society in countries like Ukraine do not have any experience with the abilities of children with Down syndrome. They believe our children will never walk or talk, that a child with Down syndrome doesn't feel or think and families are told such at birth when they are told to sign their child over to the state. There are no therapies or supports for children with disabilities there and school is not an option. Day cares will not care for child with special needs. Families left with no hope of support or interventions are left with little choice. Cadman's birth family knew adoption by an American family was his best chance at life and wanted him to have a family as soon as possible. They were very involved with his orphanage, even privately paying for his care there. His bio father would visit several times a week, always calling ahead to see what medical supplies, diapers or formula they were running low on and needed him to bring for all the infants in Cadman's groupa. She couldn't bring herself to visit Cadman in the orphanage. She knew she could never walk out leaving him there if she ever went in. Can you imagine the torture of knowing your child's only hope to thrive, to have a chance in this world was dependent on you abandoning him? That reality will always haunt her and the toll it had taken on her was clear when we met that first night. We spent much of the time hand in hand across from each other, tears steaming down our faces muttering acknowledgements of all that went unspoken between us. It was the first of several meetings. After that the husband insisted that I let him drive me to visits or let them pay a for me a driver so that I didn't have to spend hours going by metro/bus/foot. I enjoyed visiting with him and watching how Cadman interacted with him. Cadman clearly knew him and had a bond with him. I truly believe Cadman made it out of 9 months in an orphanage virtually unscathed in large part to his biological father's frequent presence and dedication to his care. The nannies dotted on him and nurtured him in a way they usually specifically avoid doing with most infants. They're trained to avoid bonding with the children and thus many infants suffer greatly from having no connections during such formative months.
The morning we flew home we had to leave for the airport around 4am. They insisted on coming, on driving us to the airport. I put Cadman in her arms that morning in the apartment and she held him until the moment we walked through security. She had walked along side us in the line until she couldn't go any farther. I'll never forget her giving him back to me that last time, giving him to me now as my son, knowing she very likely would never again see him. Selfless love on that level is something so pure and fragile and brutal, I've rarely attempted to speak of it, knowing I'd never be able to truly convey the magnitude of the moment.
Three years later we remain in frequent contact. Mostly it's through email via google translate. I send pictures and videos and lots of updates on all the fun, quirky things Cadman does to keep us laughing. At first I sent pictures mainly of Cadman but she quickly let me know she loves Hamilton too and was just as eager to know how he was doing. She always asks about all the boys and every year, in the birthday package they send Cadman, they include gifts for each of the boys. They have an older son who is Will's age so we often talk about how quickly they're growing up, becoming little men. They are like family to us and I hope one day we will all see each other again. But even if we never do, we will remain forever bonded through our shared love for Cadman.