September 23, 2013
Happy birthday, Asher Saran!

You are THREE years old today.  I’m so happy that we get to celebrate WITH you.  I know we only missed one birthday of yours, but I think I will always be a little sad about that first one.  For some reason that missed birthday also reminds me of the months and months of longing for you to be home, the hundreds–HUNDREDS–of times I would stare at your picture and pray for you and cry a little or a lot.  But this second birthday home also makes me so grateful we get to celebrate ALL the rest with you!  This year we celebrated a little early at family camp.  Many of your friends and family were able to be there and we had monkey cupcakes just for you! 

Right now you are really into trains and cars…pretty typical for a 3 year old boy, I guess!  You especially are drawn to any remote control toy, and you run it in a straight line until it hits a wall or a foot, and then you laugh and laugh like you are playing some crazy trick on the toy (or the owner of the foot).  Another favorite past-time is one you picked up from your big sister.  You love cutting paper.  Cut, cut, cut all day long.  Of course, this is a tricky hobby, as there are papers you are allowed to cut and papers you are not, and that distinction is clear to everyone BUT you.  😉  But when Sydney is doing something crafty at the table, you are content to sit with a stack of scratch paper and your scissors, making a huge mess, but tuning those fine motor skills!

Everyone you meet confirms what we already know about you: you are a ball of energy!  Even when you are doing very mundane things, like waiting for me to get you a glass of milk, or walking to the school to pick up your siblings, you can’t stand still or walk.  You have to be hopping  or bopping or swaying or dipping or jerking or bowing.  It is not uncommon for you to run 100 circles around me in the few minutes we wait outside of Carson’s school for him to come out!  You have two speeds, buddy: 100 mph or asleep.  Coincidentally, you also have 2 volumes: LOUD or asleep.   You, my dear, are all boy!  But I tell you what everyone ALSO says about you: you are a charmer!  You have a smile and a hug that could melt ice, and a laugh that is insanely contagious.

My favorite thing that is happening for you in the last few months is your language development.  You are still playing catch up to most kids your age…you had never even heard English until you were 22 months old!  I love when you say a word that I’m sure I’ve never heard come out of your mouth before.  For instance, the other morning when I went to get you out of bed, you said “Daddy go bye-bye ALREADY?”  You usually just say “Daddy go bye-bye?”  It’s those little victories that encourage us and make us so proud of the hard work you are doing to communicate.  You also worked really hard to form the “F” sound last week, so that I knew you were saying “My fffffffriend Sam” instead of “My ten Sam.”   Being able to understand each other is a reward in itself for both of us!

This summer you had a HUGE success at swim camp!  Oh buddy, I was so hopeful for you, but I admit I had my doubts.   They usually want kids to be three years old and they need to be able to listen and sit still and obey, which are not often strengths of a 2 year old boy.  But you? WERE AMAZING!  You have absolutely NO fear of the water.  I told your teacher this, and she admitted afterwards that she’d heard that before, but didn’t really believe.  But she said she’d never seen a young child so eager to fling his body into the depths of the water with his eyes and mouth wide open!  Teacher Karen was wonderfully patient with you and you responded so well to her.  You listened!  And obeyed!  And sat still until your turn!  (Uh, most of the time.) And more than once you looked over at me and yelled “I DIDIT!  I DIDIT!”   I am so proud of your brave spirit and your determination.

I think summer is going to end up being your favorite season.  You were made to be an outside child.  The happiest days you’ve had in the last several months are when we’ve been camping, at the beach or just outside for hours and hours.  I wonder if it’s because you spent so much of your infancy and toddlerhood toddling around outdoors in Thailand with your foster siblings.  I wish we had a little more sun for you around here!
 On a kid’s birthday, moms usually think about the day they were born.  I do think a lot about the day you were born, even though I wasn’t there.  I have a feeling your birth mom is thinking about you a lot today too.  Even now, 3 years later, she is still a teenager, and my prayer is that she feels a great peace in her young heart about her sacrifice, her choice not to raise you.  I’m thanking God for you today, but I’m praying for her too.  I’m grateful for all the information we have about her and about your birth!  You were born at 7:39 am and you weighed 6 lbs and 12 oz.  You were born on a Thursday–did you know BOTH your brother and sister were also born on a Thursday?!  You like to tell people all the time (including us many times a week) that you were born in Thailand!  I hope you will always have great pride in being born in such a beautiful country.  And that you will have pride in the brave mama who loved you enough to give you the best care possible for a few short days, then surrendered you to another life.  I am eternally grateful for her, because through her?  I have YOU. 
I wonder if your birthday and other special days like Mother’s Day or Thai holidays that we celebrate as a family will some years cause your heart to feel unsettled.  I wonder if you will struggle with forming your identity around a Thai heritage and an American family.  My instinct is to protect my kids from pain and loss…but you, my son, have already experienced such deep loss in your short life: loss of your birth family and your native country; loss of a foster family who loved you dearly.  I know that we cannot make that loss disappear just by loving you.  However, we promise to continue to love you fiercely in every new stage of processing these losses and how you feel about them.   We won’t be able to heal the wounds or answer all the questions, but we will be right by your side every step of the way.

We love celebrating your Gotcha Day in June, but today is a far bigger celebration!  We are celebrating not just your entrance into our family, but your LIFE!  Celebrating YOU! We love you, sweet boy, just the way you are: your crazy cute smile, your happy wrecking-ball of a personality, your laugh, your songs, your DANCING (which is outstandingly awesome), your sense of humor—everything that makes you uniquely Asher.  We know God has great plans for your life, and we are just grateful to be a part of it.  Thank you for being such a brave boy.  I am so very glad that you are mine.

Happy birthday, my son!

Love, love, love,