I posted this in 2006, and I'm sharing it again. with some edits and additions, 11 years later.
My best Thanksgiving dinner ever was 27 years ago. Far from home, far from the Land of Pochohantas and the Pilgrims. I was in South America. These were the guests of honor :
The cuties were in the process of being adopted from an orphanage, by families from the US. Dave and I had received an official adoption decree in court the day before, after a very long process, for the tiny guy on the far left. The US Embassy was closed to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. We needed to wait till Friday to get our baby's green card, to take him home.
We found other families in similar limbo to share the day. The meal itself was forgettable, save for the can of jellied cranberry that a woman from Kansas had oddly brought with her. What is forever memorable is how thankful we were to have our son, and be a family, and how we marveled at the dips and turns life takes to place you in such wonderful moments.
Being an adoptive parent makes me forever conscious of what family means. Years later I worked on a book about what happen to kids who age out of foster care. The one thing the subjects all said, whether their lives were going well or a struggle, was they wished they had a mom or dad. Not for the big things but for the small. Someone to show up at your sports games, or know you won a prize, or to call on a bad day when your car breaks down and fail a test or have a problem with a co-worker. One man in his twenties, a huge strapping entrepreneur and former college football player got tears in his eyes telling me that no one, zero, zippo, was there to see him graduate from college.
ETA: When that baby in the photo and his younger brother, adopted 3 years later from the same orphanage, became teenagers, they brought home an assortment of friends. Some were quite likable, some were tough nuts to crack. Some had problems at home that'd make your toes curl, not that we'd know details until years later, when they finally felt OK to tell. Some spent weekends here, some seemed to just be here a lot. Mostly, and especially when they were younger, they just wanted to sit at the table and eat a meal together, have me yell at them to go to bed or rinse dishes and do homework and stay away from partying and give them a ride, or run their idea for a school essay by me. Believe me, I was not always gracious about all this, it just happened. In fact, it happened before I even knew it was happening. I'm not a "cool" parent but I listen and give opinions.
So what can anyone do? Most of us can't make grand gestures but here are some small acts
- Be a mentor, or volunteer at a community center, even just once in a while
- Calling the local high school and offer to have a kid shadow you in your job for a day.
- Talk to a kid who looks rough around the edges. A little goes a long way.
And --back to the knitting! While we are on the subject of kids without support systems and/or families
Consider a quick knit for the Red Scarf project . They are collecting handmade red/red-ish scarves throughout December. The students who get a hand knit scarf in a care package this February don't have families to send them something that says"I'm thinking of you". But they'll know that someone was, thanks to the efforts of Foster Care to Success , who also have an easy-to-donate-to emergency fund and textbook fund, from that link.
I've worked with this organization for a decade+, and I will vouch for the good folks there.
Sorry for turning into Ms Preachy McPreachPants today-- I only do it once in a very long while. I'm about to turn my attention to FOOD and dive in to the Thanksgiving prep/ whirlwind housecleaning. Make a mess, clean a mess, make a mess.
I'm doing pretty poorly with the daily blogging this month but hopefully I can squeeze in Three on Thursday, tomorrow.