Shaped by Love

I went to a funeral on Monday and I have been thinking about it ever since.

My friend Lori's mother passed away.  We grew up together.  We lived in the same small town, but because we are a few years apart in age, we may never have connected with each other, if not for the small church that our families belonged to.  When you grow up in a small church, you get to know the other families well. Worship service, Sunday school, church suppers, church picnics, church fairs, youth group and the trips that go along with that, create a community and a connection that, for me, became part of who I was then and am today.

Lori and her awesome parents
It wasn't just church that created a bond between Lori and me.  It was also adoption.  We were both adopted kids growing up with siblings who were adopted and siblings who are our parents' biological children.  My boys have Ethiopian Culture Camp, I had Lori's family.  Like Ethiopian Culture Camp makes my boys feel connected to a wider community of kids like them, in families like ours, Lori's family did that for me.  They made me feel normal, which is no small thing when you are a kid.  It was great to have a friend to talk about adoption.  We got each other in a way our non-adopted peers could not. As we have both grown up,  we've  continued to touch base on different adoption issues.

At her mom's funeral, Lori spoke.  Her words were a beautiful tribute to the life her lovely mother lived.    Almost the first thing Lori talked about was being in a family formed by both birth and adoption.  She is proud and grateful for adoption.  It made me re-think the  concern I wrote about in my last post about Mikias being grateful to be adopted.  Gratitude for her family and how she joined it is a part of who Lori is.  It always has been.  Perhaps Mikias is like Lori that way.  While I don't want Mikias to feel defined by the fact of his adoption, I perhaps needn't worry about his thankfulness for us and adoption so much.

At the funeral, one of Lori's daughters and her sister, Lisa's daughter spoke about their grandmother.  Lori's mom was an enormous influence on all of her grandchildren. These two young women spoke lovingly about how much of who they are, is a part of who their grandmother was.  One granddaughter related by biology, one related by adoption. Both equally loved, both equally their grandmother's grandchildren.

I often think about how much adoption shapes a family, but until that funeral, I don't think I really thought about how much it shapes generations.  Lori and I have lost our parents but continue to be shaped by the love that they gave us.  We are who we are, in a large part, because of the parents who raised us, which in turn shapes our own children and the children they will have, and on and on.  Mikias and Lori are truly on to something with their enormous gratitude for adoption.  It's not just a life changer, it's a generation changer.  Pretty cool stuff.