Photography by Shelley Larrabee Photography
Meet Ruth. She is Beauty Revived.
Ruth Brunelli is truly an inspiration to many. The morning I shared with her she was selected for the 50 Most Beautiful Mother’s campaign; I was joined by 12 of her friends that were overjoyed to see her recognized. Ruth views each day as an opportunity to make a positive difference and spread kindness. Anyone who comes in contact with her is certain to receive a warm compliment and leave with a smile on his or her face. Any child or teen Ruth interacts with will know they are loved and will know they matter.
When Ruth and her husband were told they could not conceive a child, they quickly chose adoption. To Ruth, being a mom was more important than enduring fertility treatments and birthing her own children. In a Ukraine orphanage, she was blessed with the gift of motherhood for the first time on August 11, 2001, receiving her son Alex (22 months old). Seven days later Ruth and her husband adopted a second son, Matthew (3 months old). Years later, a daughter completed their family. Adele (6 months) was adopted from a Guatemalan orphanage in 2008.
At an early age, Ruth’s son Alex exhibited behavior requiring special attention. After suffering abuse prior to adoption, Alex was diagnosed with attachment disorder, autism and several other diagnoses. As Alex grew, his needs required some changes to their every day life. Ruth left her profession as an Emergency Room pediatric nurse to be available to care for him as his behavioral issues required more supervision and support.
When Ruth’s husband lost his job, she found herself piecing together part-time jobs to earn money for their family. These part-time jobs ranged from mental health counselor to swim coach to retail clerk, with odd hours during the week ensuring she could still be home to care for her children and meet Alex’s needs as he could not be left unattended. For the past three summers, her family home went without air conditioning so they could afford Alex’s therapy and activities for their other two children.
Earlier this school year, Ruth found herself advocating for her son’s education as he was struggling to cope with his anxiety at school. He began leaving the school campus, self-harming and having suicidal thoughts. Upon receiving resistance from school administration and working to avoid another hospitalization, Ruth relocated Alex to another school where his needs are being met with more support.
In the community, Ruth is known for her kindness and genuine enthusiasm for all the children she comes into contact with. “As a swim coach, I have been given an amazing opportunity to help build confidence in children and teens, improve their swimming and let them know how valuable they are in the community,” she said. She is known to place signs and banners in the front yards of swimmers that make it to state competition. She also delivers goody bags to students that have special dance competitions, playoff football games, school plays and other important events. She attends sporting events for neighborhood children when she can and is known to cheer unbelievably loud!
As Ruth is always doing nice things for others, she feels it is important that her children understand the importance of community and giving back. Each Wednesday, her son Matthew goes to a local elementary school and assists a second grade teacher before going to high school. Her daughter Adele cares for and walks neighbor’s dogs free of charge. She and her son Alex help one of his former elementary school teachers once a week by making copies and filing papers.
Each Mother’s Day, Ruth insists that she is not celebrated. Instead, she writes each of her children a note thanking them for letting them be her mom. She lets them know how much she loves them and how important they are to her. She accompanies this note with a small gift. Their family also celebrates Gotcha Day. This is the day in the adoption community when they became mom and dad to each of their children. This day is celebrated with a family, fun event and dinner.
“Motherhood is everything to me and without them, I wouldn’t be a mom,” she explained. As one friend said, “Ruth is a mother first and foremost. She loves her children and strives to make every day special for them, whether it’s their birthday, a snow day, or simply a Monday.”