Family Day is a celebration of the unique way our family came to be.
Today is our 9th Family Day.
The story of the way our family came to be starts16 years ago.
I was 18 when I found out I was pregnant.
I chose to parent. My boyfriend chose not to.
9 months later, I became the proud mom of a 9lb 1oz gift from God.
A precious baby boy I named Taylor.
And so began our journey. Just me and my boy.
Being a single parent was not ideal. But it was my reality.
It was challenging but I was blessed with amazing love and support.
My folks loved Taylor unreservedly. And they put that love into action by enthusiastically embracing their role as grand parents.
And God brought two special people into mine and Taylor's life. A couple who felt God's calling to become family to him and to I. And they did. Uncle Shelby and Auntie Jennifer played an integral role in the early years of Taylor's life. They loved and supported me through some tough, lonely years. And they loved Taylor with all of their hearts and gave him much of their time. I am so grateful that they chose to make us family.
I was blessed and am grateful that both my dad and Shelby recognized Taylor's need for 'male bonding'. As such, they were both wholeheartedly committed to filling that role for Taylor.
But a boy still needs a dad.
And so Taylor prayed for a dad.
A dad that could cook.
I prayed for a husband.
One that could cook.
We prayed and we waited.
6 years later, God answered our prayers when he brought Graham into our lives.
And he could cook. Hallelujah.
Our wedding was a celebration of the much answered prayers of many. And it united the three of us forever.
Graham's adoption of Taylor was finalized 11 months later. A week shy of his 7th birthday.
A year later Parker arrived in his own splendid uniqueness.
3 years after that, royalty took up residence in our home with the arrival of our princess, Avery.
And that is the miracle of how our family came to be.
Family day is a tradition in our home and as such we have rituals.
We have always celebrated Family Day with Uncle Shelby and Auntie Jennifer. We are so grateful that God brought our families together. He knew long before we all did just what his purpose was in bringing us together. Their involvement in Taylor's life solidified their desire to adopt. Eventually, part of their family was expanded through adoption.
We are amazed at God's unique timing in building each our families. The adoption of two of their four sons was finalized the same year and the same month as Graham's adoption of Taylor.
And we revel at his sense of humor too. While there is no biological connection between our 2 families, we are family nonetheless. We find it pretty cool, kind of funny and slightly ironic that the 'cousins' have an uncanny resemblance to each other.
This year will be the first time we have not been able to celebrate Family Day together. Life, health and a 6 hour drive have gotten in the way. I will miss being with my nephews but I won't miss Annie, their dog!
Every year we have a DQ cake made just for us. Over the years, the cakes themselves have taken on a life of their own. We have endeavored to make sure they are representative of the diversity of our families. Most of the time they don't quite get it right...but that is what has made them legendary.
This year we made sure the cake included the newest member of our family... Walter.
Each year, on Family Day we light 3 candles.
The first is to honor where we came from. And so we honor the role Taylor's birth dad had in creating Taylor. He is part of Taylor. However his choice to leave before Taylor was born has left Taylor with an unwritten chapter in his life. But God has a purpose and a plan and we trust his perfect timing in writing that chapter. While the act of adoption is a one time occurrence, the process of adoption is a life long journey. We are committed to helping and supporting Taylor on his adoption journey. But that is Taylor's story to tell. Not ours.
The second candle we light in honor of those who helped to prepare us for our forever family. We honor my parents who went above and beyond the call of a grandparent. Their love and support helped to make Taylor who he is today. We honor the commitment that Uncle Shelby and Auntie Jennifer made to involve themselves in the life of a little boy whom God knew needed them. And we honor and are thankful for the many, many others who loved us and prayed for us as we waited for our forever family.
The third candle we light in honor of our forever family. Our family. The family we are now. The family that we were created to be a part of. The family that God chose for us.
Each of our children is a gift from God and they were hand picked by God to complete us as a family.
Our last traditional family day ritual is for me to read the kids the following excerpt from the book by Rick Warren called "The Purpose Driven Life."
You are not an accident!
"You are not an accident! Your birth was no mistake or mishap and your life is no fluke of nature. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He was not at all surprised by your birth. In fact, he expected it.
Long before you were conceived by your parents you were conceived in the mind of God. He thought of you first. It is not fate, nor chance, nor luck nor coincidence that you are breathing at this very moment. You are alive because God wanted to create you. The Bible says, "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me."
God prescribed every single detail of your body. He deliberately chose your race, the color of your skin, your hair and every other feature. He custom made your body just the way he wanted it. He also determined the natural talents you would possess and the uniqueness of your personality. The Bible says, "You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something."
Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your birth and death. The Bible says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Everyday was recorded in your Book."
God also planned where you'd be born and where you'd live for his purposes. Your race and nationality are no accident. God left no detail to chance. He planned it all for his purpose. Nothing in your life is arbitrary.
Most amazing, God decided how you would be born. Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your birth parents are, God had a plan in creating you. It doesn't matter whether your parents were good, bad or indifferent. God knew that those 2 individuals possessed exactly the right genetic make up to create the custom "you" he had in mind. They had the DNA God wanted to make you.
While there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children. Many children are unplanned by their parents, but they are not unplanned by God. God's purpose takes into account human error and even sin.
God never does anything accidentally and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. Every plant and every animal (even ticks?!) was planned by God and every person was designed with a purpose in mind.
If there was no God, then we'd all be "accidents," the result of astronomical random chance in the universe. But there is a God, he made you for a reason, and your life has profound meaning!"