In 1997, I was born in Russia to a single mother in her teens. That's all I know about my birth mother. I was placed in an orphanage immediately, and lived there for the first two years of my life. I don't remember a single thing about those first two years, and I rarely, if ever, think about what those years might have been like. I know close to nothing about my birth mother. But I am grateful for the decision she made to place me in an orphanage. I wonder if the thought that a majority of Russian pregnancies at that time ended in abortion ever crossed her mind. Her circumstances, especially, could have called for that course of action. But that's not what happened. That's not what she did. Putting me in an orphanage was the best thing she could do for me. And because she did the best thing she could for me with the means she had, she displayed the very best kind of love: unselfish, unconditional and sacrificial love.
Two years later, a couple from St. Louis, Missouri, came to that orphanage in Russia to take me and another boy, a year older than me, home with them. He would be my adoptive brother. They were our adoptive parents. I grew up like any other kid does. I settled right in with my classmates at school. I learned to read and write, played sports and took piano lessons. I didn't feel any different from my friends. Sure, my first name was a little unusual - Sergey - but I got used to it. I soon started going by my middle name, Nathan, anyways.
When I was nine years old, our family moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was an adjustment, but making new friends wasn't too difficult. Whenever someone would learn I was adopted, they'd usually respond with something like "No way? That's so cool!" I didn't understand what all the excitement was for. Being adopted was normal to me. Then, when someone learned I was born in another country: "Wait, you're from Russia? That's so awesome! Do you know any Russian?" Honestly, I don't think I ever learned any Russian when I was a two-year old. My parents took videos of me when they visited the orphanage so that they could show them to me when I was older. I didn't talk much back then. English is definitely my first and natural language.
I continued to play sports, improve in music and develop other skills and hobbies. My parents were never too vociferous about pushing me hard in my various activities but they always expected me to do my best. I knew that was their expectation and that's exactly what I did. They raised me the way every kid should be raised. They didn't find it necessary to make sure I knew they loved me just as much as every kid is loved by their birth parents. They loved me just the same. They acknowledged no distinction between being my adoptive mom and dad as opposed to being my birth mom and dad. They're simply my mom and dad.
They've done, and continue to do, the best thing they can ever do for me. They love me because I'm their son. And because they do the best thing they can for me, they display the very best kind of love: unselfish, unconditional and sacrificial love. The act of adoption requires love and sacrifice but, as I've learned from my parents, it's what happens afterwards and for a lifetime that is most important. For a parent to love their son or daughter, no more or less if they're adopted, is the best thing they can ever do for their child. And that greatest thing is to give the greatest kind of love there is.