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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dear Daughter

Dear Daughter,

December holds so many important dates for us. Today, you are 22 years old. December 21 is the date I went to court in western Siberia and appeared before a judge to get approval to adopt you. December 28 is the day you landed in America to begin your new life. How far we have come since then!

When you arrived in your new home, you spoke no English, and I sometimes struggled to find the right Russian words to communicate with you. I remember sitting at the kitchen table looking up the Russian words for 'numerator' and 'denominator' as I tried to explain fractions to you.

Shopping for pretty new shoes. .

We went through many very difficult times together, you because of your abandonment, trust and reactive attachment issues and ADHD, I because I was totally unprepared to deal with a child with so many issues. But we muddled through together. I learned a great deal about the issues adopted kids often bring with them. And you, although you resisted going to therapy for a long time, eventually embraced the help that was offered to you. Through it all, as hard as you tried to hurt me and push me away, I never gave up on you, although I came close a couple of times. 

You graduated from high school and remained adrift for a couple of years, working a succession of fast-food jobs. Then you found a job as a server and did great at that. And then you decided you needed to prepare for a job that would serve you in the years to come, and that wasn't in the fast food business. So you went to cosmetology school, where you struggled until you transferred to a school more in tune with you. You got an externship at a local salon, you passed your state boards and got your license, and your externship became a real full-time job. After dating a succession of losers, you found a great guy and you recently got engaged. 

Just a few days ago, you reconnected with your birth mother on Facebook. Communicating with her in your native language, which you haven't used in several years, is a challenge, but you are 'talking' to her online. You have forgiven her for the things she did and for rejecting you, but you will never forget. And that is a huge step in healing emotionally. Because not forgiving someone hurts you, not the person who hurt you. I hope you get answers to the questions you have carried with you for so many years. And I love the fact that you are willing to share your conversations with me.

I am so incredibly proud of you, of everything you have overcome and of the kind, compassionate, successful young lady you are. I may not have given birth to you, but I definitely am your mother. And you are my daughter, for now and for always.

Happy 22nd birthday!