Friday, November 25, 2011

Crossing the Ocean

It's easy to get into a rut and celebrate holidays a certain way just because everyone else does and that what our family has always done. Recently on Thanksgiving, we have chosen to stay home instead of travel for the traditional turkey dinner (an football game) with relatives. It always feels a little odd if we don't do something special but I just wasn't sure how or why we should celebrate Thanksgiving. The conclusion I came to was that we celebrate Thanksgiving to remember how the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving. They had a feast dedicated to God thanking him for providing for them and protecting them during their first treacherous year in America. The foods we choose to eat, in theory, replicate the foods they would have eaten. That made sense to me. I could explain that to the little girls. And I could make the simple wholesome foods the Pilgrims would have made.

As I was thinking about explaining to Amanda why we celebrate Thanksgiving and how the Indians helped the Pilgrims during those first hard years, it made me think of the many parents who have made the treacherous journey across the ocean to America in order to provide safety and opportunities for their kids. That made me think of Amanda's birth family.

Her birthmom's parents made the trip by boat from Vietnam in the late '70's. I hope someday we will hear more of their story. I thought Thanksgiving would be a good day to give them a call. Amanda has been talking about her birthmom and asking to go visit her lately. She will say things like, "I want to go see my mom." She seems to be exploring the concept of moms and what defines a mom. We were having a baby sitter come one night and she was a little upset about me leaving until she asked, "Is she the mom?" I told her she was a mom and she would take care of her like the mom while we were gone. She immediately perked up and when the babysitter arrived she asked, "Are you the mom?"

When I suggested that we would call her birthmom, Amanda was very excited and asked if we could go to her house. I told her we couldn't go today because it took three days to drive to Texas. We waited until after the little girls were in bed for naps to call. They weren't home so we had to leave a message. Amanda was pretty upset and didn't seem to understand the concept of voicemail.

They family called back right about 5:30 pm. You know, the craziest time of the day. Amanda was so excited and got right on the phone. She invited her birthmom to come to our house since "It's not too far away." Amanda also mentioned being in her tummy and chattered about a few other things. Then all of a sudden she just says, "Bye!" and hands me the phone. I tried to talk to her birthmom a little bit but Amanda began running around and inviting Christiana into the excitement. Tali started crying because she was hungry. So, I had to cut the phone call short.

We did connect through email afterwards and I thanked them for calling and they thanked us for contacting them too. They are still very respectful and formal but always so appreciative. I'm not sure how much of relationship they would like to have but I hope we are able to get to know them better and have a chance to visit when Amanda is older. I know it will help her process through her adoption story. I'm sad that we don't have that contact with Christiana's birthmom. We'll keep praying. Maybe someday that will be a possibility.

I ended the day feeling very thankful for the many families who crossed the dangerous ocean to arrive in America. Some came by choice, others by force, but each contributed to the beauty this now is our family. Our family now represents immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Poland, Vietnam and Africa. Each of those countries represent a perilous journey by boat and a struggle to begin in a new country. I'm thankful for God's protection and guidance over all of our ancestors and His guidance that brought us all together today.

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