Throughout our life’s journey the landscape of our memories are dotted with landmarks- those times we use to return to the beginnings and ends of things. They are the “Thank You for Visiting” and “Welcome To” signs that signify we have entered a new place and that we can never go back to the old. For me, one of those landmarks is Thanksgiving. I will forever think of my life in terms of before and after Thanksgiving 2008. It was just before the holiday that my husband and I tried for the first time to start a family. This year, five Thanksgivings later, we are celebrating our first as parents. Our daughter was born in August 2013. Eight days after her birth, her adoption was final and a new landmark had taken its place on our landscape.
Now that the holiday has just passed, it seems fitting that I should begin with a reflection on gratitude.
By Thanksgiving 2010, gratitude was in short supply. For all we had, we still didn’t have the one thing we wanted more than anything- a child. Two months earlier we’d been given the news that it would be impossible for us to have a baby of our own… not difficult, not highly unlikely, but impossible. I tried desperately to find the strength to be grateful. I didn’t have to look far to find lots of things to be thankful for. I had a loving husband and family, a lovely home, a good job, financial security, and two wonderful doggies. “Think of all the people who don’t have a home and how very lucky you are to have everything you have”. This became my mantra. I’d tell myself the same thing over and over and over again in the hope that eventually I would come to honestly feel grateful for how fortunate I was – that I would come to truly believe that what I had was enough.
I wish I could say I had a great awakening, some cathartic wave of acceptance. But that’s not how it happened. What I didn’t know was that I was just beginning the most difficult period of my life. A period during which I’d be angry, selfish, childish and depressed in ways I never could have imagined. What I also didn’t know though, was that along the way I’d start to get glimpses of pure gratitude and start to understand the true essence of thanks. It sprung from the coworker who told me she didn’t have a lot, but if my husband and I needed any help financially she’d give us as much as she could. It came from the friends who would ask me how things were going and would really want an honest answer.
This year at Thanksgiving, my heart is overflowing with gratitude. As an adoptive mom there was one action above all others which was cause for an immeasurable depth of gratitude. Our daughter’s birth mother was being discharged from the hospital, but our daughter needed to stay a bit longer. It was time for her birth parents to say their first goodbye. They placed her in my arms and her birth father whispered “Congratulations.” Once I had witnessed this act – this act of pure selflessness – my perception of gratitude was forever changed. I had been trying to experience thankfulness by taking an inventory of all the things I had in my life. What I know now is that pure gratitude, like love, is powerful, mysterious and cannot truly be arrived at through logic. It is hard to express how much this realization has enriched my life.
I hope you’ll continue to join me here as I share more of my incredible journey to motherhood. I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and a Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate the Festival of Lights. To my family, our daughter’s birth family, friends and anyone who offers an act of kindness-Thank You! For all you’ve done for me. I am grateful beyond measure!