The Other Thanksgiving

by PJ McClure on November 19, 2012

When she looks in the mirror, we want our daughter to know herself. It’s hard to face the world when you don’t know where your face came from.”

-Adoptive parents

“How was vacation Angie?” my wife asked the 9 year-old next door.
“Great!” she fired back with enough enthusiasm to knock us over. “We went to these really cool National Parks and mom and dad took all kinds of pictures!”

The level of appreciation for the experience she had on vacation was enough to melt any heart. We expect that out of 3rd grader though, don’t we? Youthful enthusiasm is something that’s easy to spot and Angie’s level of gratitude is especially important to me because of an important holiday here in the U.S.

No, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving on November 22nd. It’s a much less publicized holiday that already passed on November 17th. National Adoption Day.

Angie is a beautiful, vibrant kid that is in the foster care of our neighbors due to extreme domestic violence issues with her parents. Though our neighbors took her in under foster care, with no guarantee of being able to adopt, they were eventually able to! Angie’s life is immeasurably better and we have loved watching her blossom.

What I notice most about this situation is that not knowing didn’t stop them from creating the best life they could for a little girl that needed it.

It takes a special kind of person to be a foster parent. Living and loving unconditionally with the knowledge of probable heartbreak when the child leaves. For adoptive parents, treating them as your own flesh and accepting all of their history as your history and doing what you can to right wrongs.

Think of the mindset implications for foster and adoptive parents.

  • Their purpose is to create stability and security for a child and let them know, no matter what else has happened we are here and will love and accept you throughout your life.
  • To hold a vision for this child as a member of their family. Answering tough questions about the past and allowing the child her own identity.
  • They must be aware and vigilent to the emotions and frustrations inherent with such a complex arrangement. Any time we involve personal welfare with governmental rules, things can get sticky.
  • Each parent must hold a firm sense of belief in their ability to be the best parent they can. Especially those that are fostering or adopting when they don’t have biological children of their own. They have to know that the love they have is enough.
  • Maybe most important, they have to live in forgiveness and grace. Everything from this child’s past is what culminated in the new parent having the chance to be involved. Mistakes will be made, but they must be moved on from. Children learn from their models and parents must model forgiveness first.

In appreciation of those brave and kind souls that volunteer for fostering and adoption, I want to challenge the rest of us to consider their world. Would you go out on a limb for a total stranger? Especially one that couldn’t give you anything financial in return? Would you open your heart knowing the chances of pain are so high?

If you know one of these heroes, let them know you admire and appreciate what they do. And see if you can extend a portion of their compassion and commitment into your own life. I’ll do the same.

Be your best,

PJ

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