Dear Mama Catalina, 

A teenager is born! Our baby is 13 today! I don’t know if 13 is a significant age in Guatemala for a boy, but Dennis has dreamed of this day for a few years now. 12 was not easy on him, but he has come through brilliantly on the other side. You would be so proud of the progress he has made and the obstacles he has overcome. This boy – our boy – is strong. 

I was not with Dennis on his first birthday. We missed celebrating that milestone together by 21 short, but oh-so-long days. His foster mama Karen held a little party for him that year and made sure he ate cake for the first time. I was able to call and wish him Feliz Cumpleaños with the help of a Spanish-speaking friend. He was not with you or me that day. I cried the whole day. I’m guessing you did too. 

Today he will go to school, then youth group, then football. I won’t see him today either, but I’ve made dozens and dozens of cupcakes so he can celebrate with all of his friends. Our boy is a social extravert, although lately, he listens to that inner-insecure-teen-critic too much. Tim and I embarrass him widely by just “being” these days, right on track where he should be as the calendar rolls to #13. We hold our parental ground valiantly though, knowing one day he will emerge on the other side of these hormones knowing we never left his side. 

He would want you to know he’s finally broken the 100-pound mark on the scale and he’s just so proud of that fact. So proud. This year during his sports physical the pediatrician made an estimate he will reach 5’10 in height. There was actual fist-bumping in the exam room when we heard that number! He’s starting 7th grade off with a bang academically too – it’s looking like he will make honor roll this first quarter! That’s a complete turnaround of where we were this time last year. He is playing tackle football, which he loves and I hate. I can’t stomach the games or seeing the bruises on his body, but as I said in the opening of this letter – this boy, our boy, is strong. 

One of Dennis’ teachers recently shared with me that his wishes for the future are: “see my biological mother, be a person who helps the world, and be an engineer.” You are always present in his mind and thoughts. He carries you with him in this life even though I am the one walking by his side. I carry you with me today on this milestone birthday. I pray that the grace of God that surpasses our understanding will wrap you up in His love until the day we can meet and wrap our arms around you too. 

Love always, 

Mama Dawn