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

Crystal Elfrink November 19, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Thank you for sharing such an amazing story. I too was blessed with the gift of adoption. Adopting a child is a very special gift we can give to a child. Thank you for sharing this amazing story.

Diane November 19, 2012 at 8:07 am

Love this,PJ. We adopted internationally two toddler boys over 6 years ago. We already had 4 kids – in their teens and twenties! Don’t know that I’d like to be called a hero – just a mom blessed beyond measure. Sure, there were difficulties, times we wondered what we were doing, like when our first grandchild was born two months after they came home. But when I look In their faces and see in their eyes that I am their world – Wow! I’ve often told them when they felt insecure, “Not in my tummy but in my heart you grew”. I will say that adoptive parents need more support in practical and emotional ways from their family and community, I’ love how Focus on the Family is implementing this kind of network. Thanks!

Mercy November 19, 2012 at 4:08 am

Thanks P.J. for sharing this story. I have been touched by it because I’m at cross roads right now. I pray for all the adoptive/foster parents out there. God will give you grace and wisdom and all the love you have sown will be multipled in your lives.

Robin November 29, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I loved this post. After 2 1/2 years as foster parents to an adorable boy who’s now 4 years old, my husband and I finalized his adoption on November 19 in Rochester, NY (which is when they celebrated National Adoption Day). We feel so blessed to be able to give him the love and security he deserves and know that WE are better parents because of what this little boy has given us. Even when it was imminent that he would be returned to his biological mom, our love for him never wavered and we never treated him as anything less than our son.

PJ McClure November 29, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Congratulations Robin! What a great victory for your family. Teach him with your example and always be your best.

Djblauser November 19, 2010 at 10:28 pm

My wife and I are in the same situation with three foster sons (ages 8, 3, and 1). In general I agree with all of your mindset implications except the 4th one regarding belief. We have a firm sense of our deisre to be the best parent we can. But we can not be that parent except for the grace and mercy of Almighty God. It was He Who put the desire in our hearts and brought these particular children to our home. It is He Who has put love for them into our hearts.

PJ McClure November 19, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Not sure where our disagreement might be because I am in full agreement with you. All love comes from God and there is a definite calling on your heart. My statement regarding belief is to encourage someone that what they have is enough. The love they feel that compels them to be parents will always be enough.

Bless your family for being a willing family for those boys.

Victoria Gazeley November 19, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Love this, PJ. I’ve always felt it was part of my path to adopt, so your article really touched me. I don’t know if I’m cut out for it, but I’m hoping I am. Thank you for bringing these heroes to our attention…

PJ McClure November 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Hi Victoria. I don’t know that my wife and I are cut out for it either. We don’t think so but who knows. We are surrounded by amazing people that ARE cut out for it and I’m inspired by the size of their hearts. If you feel called, answer.
Be your best.

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