Valentina and her mother, Judi

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My mom is, in my opinion, the greatest mom in the world. Her name is Judi. She is caring, generous, brilliant and witty. I grew up in an orphanage in a little town outside of Moscow, Russia. My mom had adopted me when I was three months shy of my seventh birthday. The flight from Russia to America was very long, but also exciting, yet somewhat unknown. She was waiting for me at the airport with presents and a pink teddy bear in her arms. I recognized her from the pictures [and letters] she sent months before, describing what my life would be like once arriving in America. The smile on her face stretched from ear to ear, and there was no denying it was love at first sight.

August 10th will mark our 13th anniversary for how long we have been together. I have learned so much from my mother and am so thankful to her for exposing me to everything I know today. The connection we share is strong [and] it feels as if I was never adopted. I really feel like this is my one and only mother.

Valentina McMahon; Tucson, Arizona