Our family got back from a long weekend visiting with my family in Wisconsin. Without potty breaks, it takes nearly three hours to drive there. We stayed at my parents house for three nights, but spent Thanksgiving meal with extended family at an aunt and uncle's house.
We had been in virtual adoption hibernation trying to limit Veronica's exposure to the outside world in the initial months home (to promote bonding and attachment). We hadn't seen these relatives for many, many months. Some, not for nearly a year. Yet, as soon as I walked into the house, I was welcomed.
That never seemed extraordinary to me before. It was a blessing I took for granted. Of course aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents would be happy to see me. Of course I had one of several places I could go for holidays. I fit in. I belonged. I was a part of this big, sometimes crazy group of people, and I would be forever.
And, as has happened about every other year, I had a new kid to show off to the relatives. This time, though, when my daughter was oohed and aahed over like all my other children had been, I finally realized how big a deal this was, and how much I have always taken for granted.
My husband and I chose to adopt because we love being parents and there are millions of children all over the world who need a mom and dad to tuck them into bed at night. I got to have another child to love, and this precious child got a mom and dad. But, it didn't really occur to me, until this first big family holiday, that she has gained so much more than parents and siblings. She has a whole extended family now.
She will become part of our large family's lore and legends. For the rest of her life, she, like the rest of my children, will belong.
And that is what I am so incredibly grateful for this Thanksgiving.