By Joleigh Little Bass, WRTL Region Coordinator and Teens for Life Director
Editor’s note. Each year, as we approach Christmas, we repost stories from Christmas seasons past which our readers especially enjoyed. This first ran in 2017.
Christmas season is here and it is full of the usual activities – hustling… everywhere, shopping, wrapping, baking, singing, eating and so much more. It is a time of year where we can all pause (in between checking things off our massive to-do lists) and reflect on the many gifts we have. For those of us who live in America, the blessings are so bountiful that, even on our worst days, we have more than so many others around the globe.
If you’re the parent of small children, like I am, one of the highlights of this season is the Christmas concerts in which your dazzlingly talented and beautiful children will perform. I love my girls’ concerts both at our church and at their school. As they prepare excitedly for each event, I find myself in a state of mind that may or may not be unique to mamas whose kids come from far off places – locations often decidedly less advantaged than where we live, and often lacking some of the basic freedoms we take for granted.
You would think by now, year six of being a mom at Christmas time, I would be prepared for the overwhelming tide of “the feels” that grab me somewhere in the second week of December. But somehow, every year, I’m surprised anew at just how strong the emotions are.
Call it, perhaps, the Ghost of Christmas that Would Have Been.
I’m almost always sitting in the back of our quiet little church watching a rehearsal for the girls’ big program, or in the hushed auditorium of their school awaiting the first note at their concert. (Yes, I am fully aware that this is the best time for the Christmas Feels, because it is… well, QUIET, something that our tiny home is not with two busy little humans high on Christmas cheer. And cocoa.)
It’s always the exact same realization that lodges in my throat and threatens to trickle out my eyes, one tear at a time. My girls are up there on the stage, singing, signing something in American Sign Language, reciting beloved passages from Luke 2, and generally glowing, when it hits me.
If it wasn’t for adoption, they wouldn’t be here in a warm church or school, dressed in waves of red tulle and bows, waving excitedly out at their mom and dad from the stage. Because Clara and Annelise weren’t always those comfortable and confident daughters, the joy that radiates from both of them is absolutely unique to children who are safely ensconced in a family that loves them. This glow that is almost palpable nearly takes my breath away,
The Ghost of Christmas that Would Have Been whispers to my (admittedly hypersensitive) imagination about poverty, oppression, and loneliness. In my mind’s eye, I can so easily picture those beloved little faces with eyes dulled by loss and the wretched feeling of being unwanted. They are dressed not in their Christmas pageant best, but in the tattered cast-offs so common to orphans the world round. Lacking a forever family, they miss the spark of life and joy that makes my children who they are.
As if that overwhelming reality – one I manage to keep at bay most of the rest of the year (except on birthdays, at family gatherings and spring concerts) –isn’t enough, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come reminds me that our little community of faith and tiny village in northwestern Wisconsin are still missing one: Anna Joy. She is a child whose picture still shows sad eyes and an emptiness that is hard to describe unless you’ve sat in a room with it – something I have done on more than one occasion, and will never forget.
She is the daughter of our dearest friends – the people with whom I leave my girls when I travel – but as of yet, she has no idea that she belongs halfway around the world. Her life is still bleak in the way only an orphan’s life can be. Without adoption she would never have a family to tuck her in at night, or comfort her when she is sick.
But, oh the life that awaits her here! As I watch my girls on the stage, I picture the Christmas yet to come with Anna Joy standing between them. And that lump in my throat gets bigger and I no longer feel the need to hide the tears.
Because, you see, my girls and Anna are just three among millions. And they are among the sadly small percentage of orphans and foster children worldwide who have found forever families. Children just like them still wait to be chosen. To be called “son” or “daughter.” To belong.
Adoption is, as I have said so many times in the past, not easy. There is a cost, both financial and emotional. A giving up of what IS to participate in what can and will be through hard work and more than a little bravery on everyone’s part. But among all the other things it is, adoption is both a miracle and a gift.
Is it not fitting, then, in this season of gifts and giving, of miracles and self-sacrifice, to reiterate just how vital it is for people to answer the call to adopt? If you have ever considered adoption, please continue to consider. And then take the first step toward making it happen. So many children wait for someone JUST LIKE YOU to say “yes.”
As I watch my beautiful, happy, funny girls dance their way (quite literally) through this holiday season, I pray that many others like them will find their place in a family by next Christmas. And I pray that we who are SO far beyond blessed will continue to take stock of what we have and, therefore, what we can afford to give.
We have so much. Let’s not keep it to ourselves.