But ... we met Manny's birthparents.
I'll Call them R and V. R is this tiny young lady who is sweet and gentle. It was clear that she loves Manny a lot. I knew when we got him at 9 months that he had been loved a lot. She kept in touch with the adoption agency and asked for a meeting. (I can't imagine seeing your child after TWO years, knowing he has a "terminal" condition and is not doing well.)
One of the gifts was a dog that had the name tag "Scout" on it. I had told them that he could read and no one believed me. So he points to the letters and says, "S.C.O.U.T." And they were all impressed.
To our surprise, V (birthfather) was at the meeting as well. Now I know where Manny gets his looks. I could see very little of Manny in R. But he is a "Mini V". And this man, so gentle. Perfect smile, perfect teeth, sparkle in his eyes.
They say they speak no English so we had to communicate through a translator. But I also noticed that V could understand most (if not all) of what we said.
R brought him TONS of things. Toys, shirt, shorts, hat, socks, diaper bag. The things kept coming. This bear Scout is his favorite so far.
I gave her a gift of a necklace. It's a symbolic thing. I have a similar one that I wore to the meeting. She seemed appreciative but overwhelmed by the whole meeting.
A funny moment happened when we first got there. She wanted to hold his hands but he wanted to play. He was sitting in the wheelchair playing with cars. She was trying to hold both of his hands and he kept saying, "Let Go!" They couldn't understand him so she kept doing it. I couldn't help but giggle a bit.
I know she just wanted to be with him, near him, hold him, know he was OK. She says she knows she made the right decision. But she gets a lot of grief from family members about her choice. We tried to reassure her that the decision gave him a shot at life. I hope it's enough to give her some kind of peace.
She said she had been having a lot of bad dreams. Mostly dreams of his demise. I assured her that if/when something happens to him, we will let her know. With that news, she breathed a sigh of relief.
V? He just sat and watched Manny. Smiling endearingly. He was enthralled and content to just watch him, to absorb him. He truly enjoyed Manny.
I hope that somehow, it gave her some kind of closure. I know she can tell he's doing well. That he's loved. That his medical issues are waaay beyond what she could do. But ... even still, I cannot imagine how hard it is to be a birthmother. I can't begin to know what it is like to have your child, that you love and adore, but can't be with.
I KNOW beyond the shadow of a doubt that R's decision to place Manny for adoption SAVED HIS LIFE. And she was brave to make that decision for HIM. Because the best thing for HER would have been to keep him.
Before we knew it, the 2 hours were up and we were saying goodbye. They said they were grateful from the bottom of their hearts.
The whole thing was surreal and a blur. I know it was the right thing to do to meet them. We have chosen to still not share personal info with each other, but instead communicate through the adoption agency. (The director has become a friend in the process.)
And Manny? How did he do? I didn't tell him who these people were. I said they were friends. But he still acted a bit "strange" around them. He was a little "off" as he met them. He warmed up and showed his real personality by about half way into the meeting. After, I told him their names as I showed him pictures from the meeting.
I don't think he understood... but you never know how much sinks into that brain of his.
At this point we have no plans for a future meeting. I will send them periodic updates and pictures. And we'll figure out the rest of the journey as we go.
I'm thankful for the opportunity that many adoptive families NEVER get. But mostly thankful for their selfless gift of Manny. So many lives have been changed by this little guy. He is a gift to the world.
Thanks R and V!