by Renee Griffin, Contributing Writer
I never felt accepted during Christmas with extended family.
My family loved and accepted me, but as an adopted child these events only magnified my differences.
When cousins and aunts and uncles met at grandma’s house to celebrate Christmas, my analytical eyes would watch from an emotional distance assessing the relationships between the blood relatives.
The bonds of DNA shone brightly with physical similarities, common voices, and conversations where relatives finish each others’ sentences.
I knew these kind people were my family, but they shared connections on a level I didn’t understand.
It felt like I’d discovered an alien planet, and although I understood their language, I couldn’t decode the relationship.
My sister and I bonded in spirit on the first day my parents brought her to join our family; her, wild, black hair poking up from the blanket pierced my heart.
She was like me: adopted.
It was understood between us before we could communicate that we were a team.
Being the older, and ahem…louder of the two, I assumed the role of protector. If you messed with her, you had to deal with me. My fierce nature went into overdrive where she was concerned.
We shared secrets and private phrases only the other understood.
Adoption drew us tighter, like tangled Christmas lights, our hearts were intertwined.
During these big family Christmases, she and I huddled close as we approached wondering if this time we’d feel different.
As in any big group, there were those who smirked and held us at arm’s length, but so many others drew us in with open arms.
Of course, when you’re the adopted kid and you are the only one who knows the stigma of not belonging, there really isn’t any blame to assign.
Looking back, with eyes of wisdom and maturity, most of the emotions I felt were in my own head.
I interpreted every situation through the eyes of an adopted child.
God graciously gave me a loving family. They had no way of knowing or understanding the raging disconnect inside my heart.
It’s just part of the adoption legacy.
For me there was always this nagging whisper, “You don’t belong.”
I’d watch my mama and her sisters, sister in law, and grandma sit in a room together, with feet propped up, and words flowing on top of laughter so strong they’d double over.
The genetic ties were common to people used to being blood related.
All I could see is how they all looked one way, and I didn’t.
I wanted so badly to fit in, to find a place of “real” that acknowledged my differences, and still welcomed me in.
They didn’t know I was wondering where my blood relatives were, and if they were thinking about me, but I was.
My life changed years ago, when I reunited with my birth family. My adoption reunion story, Eyes of a Stranger, tells the miraculous adventure God orchestrated.
As I read the Christmas story of baby Jesus born to earthly, adopted parents, I’m so grateful my Jesus understands adoption so well. In fact, God created adoption when He chose us to be His inheritance, His children.
God adopts us into THE family when we give our hearts to Him.
All of us who have made Jesus our Lord and Savior belong.
In Jesus, we’re all part of the family.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” Ephesians 1:3-5 NIV
Thank you to Renee Griffin for contributing this article to the When Christmas Isn’t Merry series. Renee writes for her blog, ReneeGriffin.com.