This may be my all time favorite picture. While there could be a little bias present, because it is my family. Still it is a picture that if I look at it with my heart, immediately fills my eyes with tears!
Just a short five years ago this picture would have been only my husband and I with empty arms and heavy hearts. Wondering God’s plan for us and if we would ever be blessed with children. Fast forward, five children later and this is our family.
What draws me to this picture are the smiles and the joy in each of my children’s faces. Yes, we said cheese and smiled, but I know that the joy and love expressed in one still image is a blessing that I see every day. The genuine care, laughter and time shared between them.
Some of my children were born in my heart and other’s in my womb, but the bond between these five one would never know. Seeing them stand hand in hand, a family that doesn’t match, has different backgrounds and stories, but above all unified in love.
It is Briella running up to Kolbe with her arms outstretched, when she sees him at their school Mass. It is Ethan surprising Grace with a present he made at school. It is playing baseball with Caden, sitting on the couch reading to Grace, getting Briella out of her crib in the morning. It is the hug Caden greets Ethan with after school. I could not ask for more.
When I asked one of my son’s the other day what he thinks of when he hears the word adoption, he said family. That one word answer melted my heart, because I know the word carries with it complexities, emotions and something bigger than I can explain.
November is National Adoption Month and I am truly grateful that adoption is a part of my story. Adoption is something that not only changed our family it is something that has transformed my heart. In it God has worked on my heart daily, revealing more about who He is and the grandeur of His love, something that I will never be able to comprehend.
While you see a family of seven, we are a family much larger. A family that stretches across oceans, continents and languages. What a gift. While it truly humbles me to be entrusted with another mother’s child, it is an honor. Leaving me wanting to be better. I am embarrassed to say that it has taken time to accept the fact that I will never be first and that is okay, because in the end it isn’t about that. Just two different kinds of love.
I remember at one point being the person afraid of the term, open adoption. What would that mean, what would it look like and how would it play out in our daily life. Today, I am the adoptive mother who advocates for it. We are families that have become united, paths that have intertwined and stories that are now being written together.
This week I am grateful for technology, video calling to another continent and the sparkle and excitement I saw in so many people’s eyes. I am also grateful for the quick reminder that God gave me when I am tempted to complain about needing more space, the 13 month old still in our room or needing something new.
When you gather with your family this week for Thanksgiving, whether it be just a few of you or all of your extended family, the traditional turkey feast or something a little smaller. Take a moment to be grateful. Grateful for the family God has blessed you with and those He has placed in your life.
Grateful for the house you have outgrown or the one in need of remodeling. Grateful for the car you drive, the light switch you turn on and the clean water you drink. Grateful you never have to wonder where your next meal will come from. And despite the chaos that this school year has been between virtual and in person learning, grateful that your children are being educated.
The reality is we are all family, a universal family. Each made in God’s own image and likeness. Called to be our brother’s keeper and to care for the least of these. Brothers and sisters in Christ. In that God’s love is revealed.
Have a most joyous and blessed Thanksgiving!