We are so fortunate that we were able to have Leo home with us in time to celebrate his 2nd birthday with our family. There were times when it seemed like we wouldn’t make it, but then everything came together in the end.
I’ve heard many adoptive moms say that they think of their child’s birth mother every birthday, and I can see that will be true for me as well. Leo’s birthday falls right after the Autumn Moon festival, which is a big holiday in China. I heard it best described as the Chinese version Thanksgiving, only you sit around with your family eating moon cakes instead of turkey.
It is hard to lose a child near a holiday, and I know she will be thinking of him every year. Maybe she already knew that she would have to give him up, but in my mind’s eye I see her with her family in 2011, eating moon cakes and filled with excitement for her upcoming birth. Maybe her parents were sharing their wish for a grandson while she and her husband said “No, boys are too expensive! We are hoping for a girl!” which is something all of our guides in China said to us. I’m sure last year’s holiday gathering was a somber occasion, or maybe they found some excuse not to get together.
Leo was in the orphanage for his first birthday. They don’t celebrate birthdays there because there are too many children. He was placed with his foster family a few months after his first birthday but he came home with us before his second birthday so he never celebrated a birthday with the foster family. He was with them for a few holidays, and from this picture it looks as if his foster mother got him all dressed up for one of them. Maybe the Dragon Boat festival in June?
So today was his first birthday celebration with a family, and I’m so excited that we have many years to come of cake with candles and opening presents. Leo had no idea how to unwrap the presents, but he loved the toys he received. I know he got some cake at the orphanage (parents will often have one sent for their child for a birthday or just to celebrate and they are shared among the children) because he sure recognized it right away. He also noticed that it tasted a bit different. The cake we had in China was more of an angel food cake with whipped cream for icing and that is usually the type I see in photos taken at an orphanage. He decided it tasted fine and ate his whole piece.
Happy 2nd birthday little guy!