When I was a kid every summer I went away for two weeks to St. George's Episcopal Camp at Shrine Mont, Orkney Springs, Virginia. I know it sounds odd to be excited about church camp, but every summer I could not wait to return. Most, if not all, of the campers had been going for years and every summer I would rekindle my friendships with my fellow "St. G'-ers." We would spend our days doing typical camp things: hiking, swimming, games and arts and crafts. Then there was the specific St. G's experience of celebrating both Christmas and Easter during the course of the two week camp.
On "Christmas" morning the counselors would awake us with carols in July. The day was filled with free electives, all focused on giving - picking up trash, painting houses, or anonymous cards of affirmation and thanks. Then there was "Easter." Easter culminated in a service in the beautiful outdoor shrine (photo above) where year after year the counselors would retell the tale of Barrington Bunny.
Barrington Bunny is a story from Martin Bell's, The Way of the Wolf. In the story Barrington is a beautiful, grey rabbit living in the forest. It is Christmas Day and all the other animals of the forest have gathered with their respective families to celebrate. The foxes are with the foxes, the blue jays with the blue jays, the filed mice with the field mice. But Barrington is the only rabbit living in the forest so he is forced to celebrate sadly alone. But then Barrington meets a silver fox who tells Barrington that "All the animals of the forest are your family." This simple message changes Barrington's whole way of thinking and alters his perception of himself.
At the beginning of our adoption journey my husband and I felt very much alone. We had chosen a less traditional path - flying halfway around the world to find our son - and like many adoptive parents we were not sure of our timeline. When we had a match, we figured, we would share our decision with family and friends. But the farther we went along our journey the more we redefined our definition of family. Family was not someone with whom you shared a mere blood line and genetic code. Family was a choice.
And so we began to share our decision. We spoke openly with our church, our community, our neighbors and our friends. With each person we told it felt like our family grew. Our family supported us in each step of our journey - excitedly inquiring about our match, planning last minute, impromptu baby showers, and finally welcoming our son into their hearts.
Family is what you make it. And we are exceedingly thankful, and grateful, for all of you who make up ours.