One of the most treasured realities of my life is the fact that I am adopted.
My adoption is a humbling and beautiful storyline - with a cast of characters who hold within them a depth of love I still make great effort to both understand and emulate.
My story began with a courageous and sacrificing young mother, and ended with parents who loved and cared for me despite my inability to ever love and honor them enough in return.
This Christmas, though, I've thought often of a missing character in my story.
I was unpacking trimmings for our tree when I came across a sweet ornament - a 'Baby's First Christmas' photo frame. As I reflected on the first Christmases of my two little ones, I pondered my own.
I was born mid-December. And I was lovingly adopted in late January. My first Christmas was spent in the home of a foster family.
Christmas. A time of year that heralds fellowship and celebration. And crying newborns? What kind of family would open themselves up to that level of disruption? What kind of family wants to care for a baby girl at her most vulnerable and needy time - to stay up all night - to change CLOTH diapers - to measure out formula and tidy up spit up in the middle of the season of sparkle and delight?
We've heard it so often that it is almost cliche, "Christmas is the season of giving."
I'm living proof that it is.
And so with teary eyes and a heart that is bursting with gratitude, I want to say thank you to the beautiful people with whom I spent my very first Christmas. The gift you gave me is beyond my ability to repay, which seems to be a prevailing thread in the fabric of my adoption story.
In this season of giving, remember the givers. I am indebted to the Florida Children's Home Society and the many givers in their midst. Please remember the children they serve - I am one. And encourage the many foster families that embody the love we celebrate on Christmas Day.