Our first gotcha day anniversary

To resilient little boy, after one year in my arms:

Arie, happy gotcha day. One year ago today you walked toward me with your nanny, proudly waving the monkey lovey your papa and I got you. You were dressed in the clothes I carefully picked out for you, the buttons of your plaid shirt done all the way up to your chin by a meticulous nanny. You were ready to join your forever family.

That day was the most miraculous day of my life. To think that God drew us together, across an ocean, to call each other Mama, Papa, and son... it moves me to the deepest gratitude I know.

On that day, you wavered between great happiness and great fear. It was your first time in a car. Your first time away from the baby home. Your first time going to sleep in a new place, eating new foods, and having a new mama and papa care for you.

You were my brave little boy. You still are. Over the past year you have learned English, learned how to speak, how to be held and touched, how to eat new foods, and how to be loved. You are so tender hearted. You are easily delighted and easily scared. My boy- I am amazed and so thankful that your hard life has not hardened you. You left everything you knew when we brought you home from Russia but you were not consumed. You learned how to trust, how to depend, and how to love.

Your favorite song right now is "I am not Forgotten." You sing at the top of your lungs, "I am not forgotten! God knows my name!" I ask you each time, "Did God know you when you were a baby in Russia?" You answer gleefully, "Yea!" "Even before Mama and Papa knew your name?" "Yea!"

I pray that your life will be defined by that truth. You have never been forgotten. You have never walked alone. Each year on this day we will look back and marvel at how far you've come, but the even greater truth is that when you soar, you soar in the strength of the LORD who has brought you this far.

Artem when you were born I did not whisper your name with love in your baby ear. I did not exclaim it loudly when you first learned to walk. When the apartment door in Moscow finally closed behind us and we were alone together at last, I used your Russian nickname again and again as if making up for lost time, "Tioma! I love you! I love you, Tioma." At home we called you, "Tioma-Arie!" for a while, usually through giant smiles as we watched you do everything in sheer awe- pet the cat, play with blocks, or fall asleep. You amazed us. Now I call, "I'm coming Arie!" when you wake up from your nap or call me to play with you from another room. I use your name a hundred times each day: calling, asking, warning, laughing.

Someday, in fewer years than I like to think about, you'll leave our house to start a life of your own. I know I'll think back to that day- November 19 2012- when I carried you in your little body out of that orphanage at last. I'll probably reach up to hug you by then, and tell you, "I love you Arie. Goodbye." And I'll cry. But I'll remember you dancing around my kitchen, stomping your little feet and singing in your little baby voice, "He knows my name!"

Indeed he knows your name! He knew it before I did. He'll know it every single day of your life. He'll know it even after I've grown old and gone.

You were never forgotten and you will never be.

I am so blessed today to know your name and watch you soar.

I love you- like you love to ask- "A little bit?" "No...

Forever and ever and ever and ever!"





  1. Anonymous11/19/2013

    I can't believe it's been a whole year! Not just since your son came home, but since I started reading your blog as well. As I've read about the blessings and the trials God has brought you and your family, and that you have accepted with open arms and a open heart, I've been amazed and inspired. I've laughed, cried, seen the love of God and the love of mankind, and become more set in my conviction to adopt a child myself someday. Love to you and all of yours.

  2. My wholehearted congratulations on a beautiful milestone. YES, He knows our names - isn't that just the best?! Happy celebrating!
    -Jacquie DeRaaf

  3. I teared up reading this post. Congrats on celebrating a wonderful milestone, I can't believe it's already been a year since you brought him home. Enjoy today celebrating your love as a family, know that you are being thought of and others are celebrating with you.

  4. What a fast year! Congratulations, what a great thing to celebrate.

  5. I've been an avid reader of your blog for over a year now. I remember how excited I was for you and John on your Gotcha Day last year!!!! I can't believe it's been an entire year. You are an inspiration and I only hope other orphans get to have a life like Arie has been blessed with. He is absolutely beautiful inside and out!

  6. What amazinglly sweet pictures and story! Hooray for one year! :)

  7. This is beautiful. It made me "ugly cry" :) Lol..God bless your family and your journey !

  8. Cannot finish my coffee and croissant - just crying with a big lump in my thraught. I have two little girls of my own, but your story makes me want a little beautiful baby boy from Russia! You are such amazing parents!

  9. Tears of joy and thanksgiving and hope! Love your forever family, Arie!

  10. Beautiful Jill. It gave me shivers. congrats!!

  11. Karen & Andrew DeBeer11/19/2013

    Congratulations...what a journey and what a blessing!

  12. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing the sweet pictures! I've nominated you for a Sunshine Award: http://chroniclesofanadoption.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-sunshine-award.html. :)

  13. Aw! So sweet! I love this for you - and look how big he's gotten! Love keeping up with you guys - blessings to you!

  14. Anonymous11/22/2013

    I read this post with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Not just because of the miracle of your Gotcha Day, but because of all of our journeys with our children. You write truth. Thank you for this beautiful essay.


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