Guest Author: "Do I Have One Too?"

Today’s Guest Author is Jennifer, writer of to Africa and Home, and founder of From HIV to Home. I have admired Jennifer for a long time, and finally joined with her at From HIV to Home a year ago. It is an honor working alongside her for the benefit of HIV+ orphans in the world. Along with Brianna, and our co-worker, Abbey, we hope to attend the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit together in Minneapolis this April. Maybe we’ll see you there.

This year brings Jaso’s fourth Christmas home with us and Avi’s second. Like birthdays and other family holidays, Christmas tends be one of those times when we share family memories and look back over the years. For our adopted children, this often highlights the much that we don’t know about their past. It sometimes leaves me feeling sad for those “lost” years – and even though I know they don’t fully comprehend it yet, they feel that sense of loss as well.

This comes out in many ways – popping up here and there. Our older kids love to hear stories about the night they were born or their first words or the funny phrases that came out as they were learning to talk. We are able to tell some stories for our adopted children as well, but there are big empty gaps. We do what we can to fill them. But they are there.

It’s a gift though – for them and for us – when we find ways to bridge those gaps.
Last year, as we decorated our Christmas tree, we pulled out ornaments for each child to hang on the tree. Some they’d made, some had been gifts to them, some were family heirlooms that weren’t too fragile for them to handle. As we pulled them out of the Christmas boxes, we came across the silver cradle ornaments that had been given to Mia and Noah – each in the year they were born, engraved with their names and birthdate.

“Do I have one too?”

“Where’s mine?”

It was one of those moments where my mind races, trying to find the most comforting, loving, and child-friendly explanation possible. I found some words, the moment passed, and the kids were distracted by all the other ornaments. But they asked repeatedly over the next several days.

“Why don’t I have one?”

So I determined that I was going to find them their very own baby ornaments. I knew I wanted something silver and engraved, but it had been years since those cradle ornaments had been given to us. I spent time online, comparing different ornaments, trying to find ones that would be special enough to thrill them both. And then after several websites, I happened across the exact cradles that were hanging on our tree!

It was so fun to be able to type in their names and birthdates into the engraving instructions, to open the package when it arrived in the mail, and to tuck them in at the very top of their stockings for Christmas morning. They were so excited to be able to hang them on the tree that morning alongside the two others already there!

Four matching ornaments, celebrating our four children – each with their own story, all deeply precious.

This year, I stood back and watched them decorate the tree – knowing that there was no wondering why their stories are so different, no empty spot on the tree, no empty spot in their hearts. They have one too!

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. coffeemom
    December 22, 2009

    OH…this is so great. I have been stewing about just exactly this problem. And toady we decorate (Finally) our tree. And I don't have time to hunt for the perfect baby ornament (belated)…but I will go out and find a few, just for the two who are missing a few special ornaments. Thank you

    Reply
  2. The Ellens Family
    December 22, 2009

    Can you share the website where you found the engraved ornaments?
    thanks

    Reply
  3. lifeonplanetearth
    December 22, 2009

    How serendipitous.

    Reply
  4. barb Holmberg
    December 22, 2009

    Thank you for being a guest on this blog. I have 5 adopted children and I have not used some of my biological children's "first" Christmas ornaments etc. because I wanted to avoid the confusion and hurt for the adopted ones. Your solution is perfect and I praise God that you found the exact thing.

    Also, I didn't know anything about the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit to be held in Minneapolis and I live only 45 minutes from there. I am going to check it out and hopefully I will be able to attend as well!

    Reply
  5. Signe
    December 22, 2009

    We don't have baby cradles, but each of our children does have an ornament. Nesradine noticed this right away. So this Christmas I will be shopping for special ornaments for our two Ethiopian children

    Reply
  6. Kathrin
    December 22, 2009

    Beautiful.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous
    December 22, 2009

    Beautiful….It made me cry to see you filling the tender places in your children's hearts…It also caused me to think of ways that I might be able to do that for my children!

    Lisa H>

    Reply
  8. Amanda Cox
    December 22, 2009

    Hi Ladies. I'll be speaking at the conference again this year. Can't wait to see you there!! Amanda

    Reply
  9. Stonefox
    December 22, 2009

    What a great solution! Thanks for helping us work through some options for holiday times.

    Reply
  10. jen
    December 22, 2009

    Oh, thank you for this post – so, so sweet. Our adopted children arrived home on December first two years ago. Literally, THE thing that was at the top of my list was to get them an engraved ornament with their name and to get it before Christmas. I remember going to the store in the mall, praying all the way that they would not be all sold out of the nice ones and that I would be able to get the ornaments in a timely manner. All was well, and I am thankful every year!

    Reply
  11. chloeadele
    December 23, 2009

    beautiful, Jenn.

    Reply
  12. Jillian and Crew
    December 28, 2009

    Beautiful.
    We just stumbled through our first Christmas…I had been so distracted with the deployment and pregnancy that those things snuck up on me…we ended up ONLY hanging the ornaments the kids all got this year from Grammee and Popple, and making at speech therapy…8 little ornaments, the tree may look a little empty but it looks just right for us this year.

    Reply

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