It really is hard to believe that nine years ago our Cava was born.
As I have written many times before, Cava wasn't born to us, but he was born for us. Our family is so thankful that he was.
It is astounding to me that a year ago, we didn't even know Cava, but now, one year later, he's our son and we love him as if he's always been a part of our family. We couldn't even begin to picture our family without Cava in it.
On Saturday, we asked Cava, "What's so special about Monday?"
"I get presents," he replied.
"No, presents are nice, but what makes Monday special?"
"Cake is also nice, but that's not what makes that day so special."
"I don't know."
"You were born. That's what makes Monday so special."
As we talked to Cava about his birth, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness. I wish he had been born to us and that we could have held him then and never let him go. I wish we could have been there for all of the eight other birthdays. While I can't change the past, I can be thankful for the present and for those birthdays we have to come with Cava.
Cava's an incredible kid who has gone through more pain in his nine years than many of us have as adults. Yet, he is still awed by the simple beauty of leaves changing in the fall. I love hearing him exclaim, "Papa, look at those leaves! They are awesome!" He is a miracle who makes me stop and take notice of the other miracles around me.
Cava makes me laugh. He may not be tall in stature, but he is huge in personality. I love that twinkle in his eye and that Cava smile that only he has.
I love Cava's hugs. They are not weak, vanilla hugs, but good, tight hugs that he puts all his body into.
I love playing the game with him, "I love you most," in which he and I go back and forth playfully correcting each other on who loves who most. He enjoys playing this game and ends up in a fit of giggles whenever I strike a pose of fake defiance and wave away his suggestion that he loves me more than I love him. He needs to hear that he is loved and he needs to hear it a lot.
He is brave and resilient. Whenever I try to imagine myself at his age going through what all he's been through in his young life, I cannot do it. I would have been one terrified child, who was unable to cope with what he has navigated emotionally, mentally, and physically.
He is smart. When he was getting frustrated with studying for a spelling test, I reminded him that he has not even been here a full year and that he has learned more English in that time than I learned French in the 6 years I studied it.
He has a great heart. Yesterday, as we were eating breakfast, Cava suddenly said, "I love America because the people here love me and God loves me." It was not only an awesome way to start Orphan Sunday, but it brought tears to my eyes that Cava is understanding not only what love is, but that he is, indeed, greatly loved.
Cava can be giving and generous.
I would never say that Cava is unwanted because we wanted him before we ever even knew him. And God knew this and planned this so that Cava could be a gift to our family. Now that it's his birthday, we get to do something that has never been done for him before: celebrate his life.
We get to take this time to remind him that he is loved, he is special, he is wanted, and that this is only the first of many birthdays that we will joyously celebrate with him.
Cava, you are precious and not a day has passed that we have not thanked God for you.
We love you dearly.
God has blessed us with the opportunity to be your parents and for Benjamin to be your big brother.
Happy birthday, son.
To my special Cava,
One of the most special days of my life is when your little face popped up in the orphanage window. I was so happy playing with you and Legos. When we went out into the hall to decide if we wanted to adopt you or not, I admit I originally wanted a sister, but I was the first one to speak up and the first words out of my mouth were, "He is my brother."
One thing that all siblings have in common is arguments. I dislike them but they are forgotten when we have those special days that never end, where we have those special moments when I get my loving "Fist over the mouth exited face." I love when you and I pretend together. From your hero Spiderman to your arch nemesis Jetta and her pet fox Swipey.
Cava I have a few words for you "Ya tebyA lyublyU" (I love you).
I love you my Silly Cavee.
Happy Birthday from your big brother,
There is not much that I can say to you, Cava, that your Papa has not already said.
You are an amazing kid. It's funny. Your Papa writes that you have always been ours; I feel the same way. From the first time we met you, I knew I could not be separated from you. I felt something very deep inside of me that wanted to protect you, right all the wrongs that have been done to you, take all of the pain that has been inflicted on you, and give you back what had been stolen from you. I am your Mom, you are a part of me and a part of our family.
And you are a natural fit, just as God intended it to be. God has had His hand in constructing this family and you are just another piece, just like the puzzles you love. If your father had taken all the classes he was supposed to have taken in college, he wouldn't have had to stick around another semester and he wouldn't have met me. It took us years for us to have Benjamin; Just when we were going to have move onto other medical means, God gave us Benjamin. And just one month after you became eligible for adoption, we met you. We were the first family to do so. We had had our paperwork rejected one time before. If it had not been rejected, we would have been in Ukraine before we could have met you. God has His hands all over this family.
While it breaks my heart to think of each and every birthday that you have had to live without someone to love you and let you know exactly how special you are, I know that those days are over. You are surrounded by friends and family who know exactly how "spectacular" you are. Cava, we are truly blessed to have you, and this birthday will be just the first of many where we will celebrate how God has brought you into our lives.
I love you so very much,