Another birthday missed, but I’m still grateful

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

We are in the process of adopting from China for a second time. Before Covid-19, we hoped to bring him home before his next birthday. Last week he turned 11, and now we hope to bring him home this year. This sucks.

Adoption is a wonderful, but weird experience. You go from knowing about a kid to choosing to add him to your family, to feeling like your family is incomplete without him. Every holiday and family gathering becomes a celebration tinged with sadness he isn’t there.

We missed another birthday, another milestone. Our son spent another birthday in an orphanage. It breaks our hearts.

There is a boy, halfway around the world, that I both know and don’t. He is a part of our family and not. He is my son in my heart, but not on paper. I wait for him with gratitude.

Why am I grateful?

A few days before his birthday, my wife reached out to an organization we know in China. They have spent time with our son, teaching him and, from time to time, have been able to tell us how he is doing.

We asked if they could take him a birthday cake on his birthday. They had not been allowed to visit the orphanage due to Covid-19 and said it would not be possible. But, on a whim, they reached out to the orphanage anyway, and found out they could drop off a cake! Amazing!

When they went to drop off the cake, they were allowed to go in and see our son! They gave him the cake and told him it was from his mom and dad. We couldn’t be with him in person, but he knew we loved him and were thinking of him. In some small way, through that act of love, we were there with him, celebrating.

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Our son is the one in the mask

I am continually aware and grateful for the love of so many people in the lives of our adopted sons. They both had biological families that loved them enough to give them up so they could have life-saving medical care. They both had foster parents that loved them as their own. And, they both have had countless people touch their lives, helping them along the way.

Love by Proxy

I’m grateful for those people that can love by proxy. This week, while I was half a world away, my son felt the love of his parents through the kind act of someone else. Love by proxy.

It is happening all over the world right now. As people are separated from loved ones due to the pandemic, love is sent by proxy over and over. It’s in the care of a doctor for a patient or a nurse sharing news with a family. It’s in the extra messages we send or the virtual happy hours we attend.

Love doesn’t always come in the form of a hug. Sometimes it is more subtle, more nuanced. Sometimes love comes as an email saying hi, a card, amazon delivery, or a video call. And, sometimes, love comes as a cake to share with friends, from a family that loves you on the other side of the planet.

Thank you to those that work with orphans. Thank you to those in the medical field. Thank you to those in food delivery and distribution. Thank you to all the front line workers and volunteers that are loving by proxy for those of us that cannot. You make these times bearable. Thank you.

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Husband. Father of six. Wearer of fedoras. Startup co-founder (with exit). Nonprofit co-founder & CMO. I write about personal growth and nonprofit marketing.

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