You may not know this about me but I am adopted.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my natural, nuclear, biological family, but I also have another and I’d like to introduce you.
My new family adopted me in the city where I attended college my junior and senior years while pursuing a journalism degree. I remember waking up the first Sunday morning I was in said city, living in a scholarship house with 17 girls, 9 on the second floor and two roommates in my particular bedroom.
Freedom hit and I realized I was truly in control of my comings and goings. Eventually, I found myself going to a church even though I didn’t have to. There were lots of other college students and it seemed like a fun place to meet people. That’s where I met Bill and Becky Dye, my adopted parents.
Why did they do it? You’ll have to ask them but with three boys under the age of 7, they reached out to me through that church’s “adopt a student” program, which linked local families to students for the duration of their time there. The frequency of visits or exactly how the relationship shaped itself was decided by participants – encouragement being the main goal and having a “family away from family” the other.
I was Bill and Becky’s first student and their only girl, so they tell me I have a special place in their hearts. I experienced this again recently after crisscrossing my alma mater’s campus with my youngest son who is on the “college tour circuit.” After the well-polished presentation in a new and shiny building just for guests, after the walking tour where I discreetly pointed out places I had liked while there, it was time for our pre-arranged rendezvous.
This couple attended my college graduation, sat in the family section of my wedding, knows my parents and even their “adopted grandchildren” – my sons. They surprised me with balloons and birthday cake on my 21st birthday – my first away from my nuclear family. This couple didn’t play “church police” when I wasn’t there but who invited me into their home and their lives – they fed me, they let me play with their kids and they included me in family events.
After a leaving campus and heading to the other side of town, my son and I met Bill and Becky for a visit before heading back to Jacksonville. It amazes me how some relationships in life lend themselves to being put down and picked back up with ease, how time can pass and the next “together time” is just as sweet as any other. This time was no different.
So on mom’s break for filling in for a preschool teacher and dad taking a break in his day, my son and I exchanged hugs with them and caught them up on life. When time was up, we snapped a quick picture and here it is for the world to see. Me and my adopted parents.
Throughout the years they opened their hearts and home to many other adopted students – one even played football for the school. They might still be recovering from the food bill for that guy!
So what’s the point? Love goes on ….and on….and on.
I’m living proof.