Last week, Chris and I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with his parents in North Carolina. I can’t count the number of times in which they’ve invited me into their home over the years—yet because we just got married in May, this marked the first year for me as an “official” Thanksgiving family member.
Chris and I began dating in 2009, and for years I’ve felt like part of his family: I’m not afraid to dig through the fridge, no one needs to see me with makeup on, and I know how his mom likes to load the dishwasher. Yet this year’s Thanksgiving festivities stirred up something that’s been in the back of my mind for years: what really makes a “family”?
My father died very suddenly when I was 18 years old, leaving me, my mom and my little sister desperately trying to define what our family was without Daddy. Twelve years later, I still don’t have a concrete answer—but I continually come back to something I once read by Barbara Bloom:
“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.”
Family, I believe, is the gold that fills our cracks. When my dad passed away, he left chasms in the lives of me, my mom, my sister. And while nothing will ever make those cracks disappear, I bit by bit make them beautiful as I surround myself with people I am immensely proud to call my family. I’ve built sisters in my closest friends; found a child in my goddaughter; and discovered a grandma, mom, dad and nieces in Chris’ family who I am grateful for on Thanksgiving and every day.
This is one of the reasons that adoption is so exciting to me. In adopting, Chris and I have the opportunity to grow our very own family, in our very own way. We can fill our cracks—and maybe even a crack in the life of an expectant mother—with gold.
When we started the adoption fundraiser for our wedding registry, I was humbled by how many people donated money. And as I opened card after card, I read different versions of the same message again and again: ‘thank you for letting us be a part of your family.’
We have no idea who our child will be; who his or her biological mother will be. But we know that when we find them, they will have a family in me, in Chris, and in the families we’ve already built together. We will give thanks for our child each and every year, and little by little, fill each other’s cracks with gold.