Valerii Muoio

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure how I truly felt about Valerii coming along. We originally picked Zhenya and another child would mean double work load when taking these two boys in. Double the laundry, double the dirty dishes, double the unmade beds, but I would quickly learn it would double the size of my heart with the love they have brought into my life.

Valerii has certainly been the dark horse in our story. I have taken particular joy in watching his interactions with my husband. Since it works out better for Zhenya to sit next to me when we are driving, my new spot in the car has become the middle of the back seat. I can’t help but smile as I watch Valerii sitting in the front seat next to Rob. He mimics Rob’s every move. From the way he rests his arms on the captain chair to his desire to constantly wear his sunglasses, he controls the music, he shares his food with Rob, he tells him to GO when the light turns green and STOP when we see a stop sign. He certainly is the cutest back seat driver I have ever seen.

Most of this time Zhenya has been the more affectionate of the two boys. He smothers me in kisses, he hugs me so tight I find it hard to breathe sometimes, he lays his head on my shoulder, and rubs my face. Valerii has been the type of boy who you have to force a hug out of that immediately wipes your kisses off his cheek. Until now. At lunch yesterday he asked to see Rob’s license. He carefully looked over it for a few minutes. I wondered what he was doing. What he did next immediately moved me to tears and pulled at my heart strings.

He drew us a picture of his family. A little stick figure with a big smile of Anthony, a bigger stick figure with a bigger smile for Mama, an even bigger stick figure with a goofy face for Papa, and in a different color he drew himself, somewhat smaller than Anthony’s stick figure and with straight lips. In the middle of the picture right next to Mama, he drew a heart. Then at the bottom of the page he carefully signed his name “Valerii Muoio.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. This boy has quietly and unassumingly made his place in this family. He came in a little leery, a little shy, a little reserved, and he emerged into a son I wish I could have. He feels that this is his home. His room, his clothes, his food, his seat in the car, they are all a part of who he has become. The boy has stolen my heart. And I slowly started to learn so much more about this dark horse, like the dimples when he smiles that I never noticed when we first met. His walls have crumbled, his heart is open, and my heart is breaking more and more each second knowing I have to send him back. I hope he knows how much I love him. I hope he knows that he will always have a place in my home as Valerii Muoio.




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