Adoption is a journey that can be filled with unexpected blessings.

The adoption experience is one that most come to unexpectedly, after all. Sometimes, it’s precipitated by an unexpected pregnancy, an unwanted infertility diagnosis, or the abrupt loss of both parents.

Yet adoption is always a solution to someone’s crisis. It’s not disloyal to admit this; it’s honest. The child being adopted is never the crisis, however. And it’s essential that we remember that.

Today, at our weekly birthparent support group luncheon, we talked about gratitude. Amy, an employee who is delightfully crafty, had created a blessings tree, and each attendee wrote what they are thankful for on a leaf of that tree.

Kasey, our counseling intern, directed us to think about blessings that are easy to identify (like “life” or “food” or “family.”)

She then asked us to consider our unexpected blessings. What are those? They’re those events in life that were not planned and yet, can eventually lead us to new discoveries or new growth which was not unanticipated.

Unexpected blessings are found by way of broken roads

The country group Rascal Flatts recorded a song called “Bless the Broken Road.” It describes how even broken roads can lead to someone they would never have otherwise found. This is certainly true of most open adoption plans we witness here.

Similarly, the Carr Family has a song called “Thank You for the Storm.” In it, the chorus reminds us that “I wouldn’t be thankful for relief without the pain, or appreciate the sun without the rain. How could I understand forgiveness without failure, or feel the warmth of love without the bitter cold? Sure, it’s a blessing to be safe, secure and warm, but Lord, I want to thank You for the storm.”

One adoptee at today’s lunch shared that her life’s unexpected blessing has become the ongoing role her placed child’s adoptive mom has had in her life, because of the open adoption that followed her unplanned pregnancy. Another birthmom spoke of how the depths of her addiction eventually led to the heights of her sobriety. A birthdad talked about having been incarcerated for the past four Thanksgivings, and finding freedom this year an unexpected blessing. A birthmother who placed recently identified her unexpected blessing being getting to choose and get to know her baby’s new parents, when she’d originally planned to merely do a closed adoption instead.

None of these were initial life experiences that anyone signed up to have. At the time, these were crises that felt like threats to their futures. They could have chosen different paths, and different outcomes. Yet, by forging forward against all odds, they found themselves moving forward in new directions.

That proverbial broken road, traveled by storm, can still lead to brighter horizons.

Counting blessings, great and small

This Thanksgiving season, many of us are facing painful realities, whether it means job layoffs or medical challenges or financial crises or lost loved ones or dashed dreams. Sometimes, this makes it difficult to feel thankful, even in a season of gratitude.

One Abrazo couple is home mourning an adoption plan that just ended unexpectedly. A new expectant mother in our program, is facing the imminent birth of a baby she’d been planning to parent, yet now feels she cannot. An Abrazo family is preparing for their first Thanksgiving without a beloved mother and wife who died of ovarian cancer last Christmas. Another adoptive couple is preparing to travel here to take placement of a preemie, while that birthmother and her family face post-placement grief. An adoptee we know is struggling with feelings about a birthparent’s unreadiness for contact.

Nobody finds the adoption process because it’s easy or simple, or even fun. It’s a journey of hills and valleys, and yet, there will be opportunities to bask in sunlight along the way. For those of us who work in adoption, it’s a rollercoaster, as well, and yet, the blessing of being part of something so much greater than ourselves is one we truly appreciate.

So please know, wherever you spend this Thanksgiving, that we truly appreciate your place in Abrazo’s community, however you got here, and that we truly count you and your continued support of our work as one of our unexpected blessings.

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