Today is my “Adoption Birthday”, the day my family adopted me and brought me home. I was a month and two days old. I’m sure it all became legal some months down the road, but December 14 has always been my day to celebrate.
Mere mortals get only one birthday. Awesome adopted children get two. (No wonder I have megalomaniacal tendencies. And let’s hear it for my beloved siblings who only got one birthday each year.)
Every year, my family did something to mark this day. Many years we ate at the Spaghetti Factory.
Today has been just another day in most regards, with work, and a Christmas open house, and chores around the house. Today also seems to have more significance, being my first adoption birthday since I started my birth family discovery this Fall.
I’m so grateful to have met my new half-sister Carol and other members of her family. I’m hopeful for whatever relationships will develop with them. I’m sailing on uncharted waters here–not sure what the map looks like yet, but I’m hopeful. And I’m grateful for the welcome from my birth father’s extended family–the cousins and second cousins who have friended me on Facebook and welcomed me to the family. It’s all a gift.
Today, though, I’m mindful of my gratitude for the family that welcomed me into their lives on this day in 1968.
I know myself well enough to know there must have been moments when they did not know what to make of their headstrong, opinionated, bold daughter, who was so unlike them in so many ways. I am so thankful for their constant and unconditional love and acceptance.
I often think about the “what if” moments–the way my life would have been so different had one thing been changed. Since I’ve received my original birth certificate, I have wondered who I would have become had I not been placed for adoption.
What would my name have been? Would I have gone to college? Would I have the same interests and would my talents have been encouraged in the same way?
At every turn in every hypothetical “what if” timeline, I want to turn back and return to this, my real life. I am grateful for so many things in this particular life I’ve lived. For my family. For my childhood friends from Hutton, Sacajawea, and Lewis and Clark schools. For orchestra. For growing up on Manito Boulevard. For Loon Lake. For my college friends and professors. For getting pregnant in college. For Al, Sandy, and Greg who made room in their family for Eric. For my husband. For my sons. For the Church and for all of the churches I have served. For Columbia Theological Seminary. For friends in each place we’ve lived and for friends I’ve met on Facebook or through church work. For RevGals. For belly dance.
I’m sure any “what if” life would have been fine, but when I look at my life this day, I’m so grateful for the one I’ve got. “What if” may be an interesting intellectual exercise, but “what is” is so much better.
So, thank you, George, Esther, Annette, and Brian for being my family. You’ve helped me live into the person God was dreaming for me to be. I’m thankful for you every day, but most especially on this adoption birthday. You’ve been my biggest gift.