The greatest gift I was ever given was the gift of adoption. I was just five weeks old when I was adopted. Seems like a lot of time by today's adoption standards, but back then it was not. I was the youngest baby placed in a home by the agency that handled my adoption; I was also the first child placed in a home that was the third child in that family. Benchmarks.
Still, for the first five weeks of my life, my name was Baby Girl.
Since Mom passed away, I've felt like Baby Girl again. In my head, I oftentimes consider myself an orphan, parentless. While I understand that as we age, it is a natural progression that we lose our parents, for me I also lost the two people who chose me, pulled me into their fold, created the life I lived, gave me my family. They took me from Baby Girl to Alison.
That's a lot to be thankful for, and I am.
Fast forward to Christmas 2011. Wait, no, I need to back up, just a bit.
For too many reasons to put forth here, since 2007, I have taken charge of Christmas for my little family, my two nieces and my nephew. We went to Colorado one year, New Mexico another. In 2008, we went to the family cabin and put the first Christmas tree in that house. Last year, I had them here with me in my house.
Okay, now to 2011. Everyone has plans. Plans to be with the boyfriend's family, the maternal grandparents, the fiance's family. I find that for the first time in my little life, I am alone for the holidays.
And so it was that Saturday night when I was at my friends' house, celebrating their family Christmas, a celebration where I was the only non family person there, a celebration where there were mothers and fathers and step fathers and brothers and uncles and nieces and nephews and lovers and love, I looked around me at all that wonderful history and connection and realized, I am an orphan.
Now, understand, I was having a wonderful time. My friend's partner has a big beautiful family and I fell head over heels for the people I met and every single person was delightful and I tried (and I think succeeded) to be delightful right back. In fact, I was so very swept up in family that I felt right at home. But feeling at home, feeling that comfortable, is what reminded me that while the comfort was there, the history and connection were not.
Then I said out loud, I am an orphan. I said it to my friend, the friend I've know for almost 30 years, the one who helped me raise my sister's children, the one who screamed for a doctor when I was in the hospital and a nurse had screwed up a blood transfusion so badly that my eyes rolled back in my head, the friend whose hand I held when we buried too many of our friends at too young an age, the friend who is a sounding board for all the big decisions in my life. She looked right at me and said, You are NOT an orphan, you're family. That's why we wanted you here, you're family!
I stood there and let her words move from my ears to my heart. She was right, my friend was. Indeed, I was with family. I belonged there, was invited and included.
Life shifts this way and morphs into that thing, but always if we look for and accept, we find where we belong. We find family, even if we have to create that family. I should know that better than many. To my delight, I've been adopted again. For the second time in my life, no longer an orphan am I.