Our First Christmas Together

Even though seven years have passed, I still remember Sophie’s first Christmas in our family like it was yesterday. We came home from China in late October, and Sophie had open heart surgery in early December. It was a whirlwind first few months, and before we knew it, Christmas was upon us.

I’d love to tell you that it was a picture perfect holiday, but it wasn’t. We were home from the hospital before Christmas, but Sophie was still recovering. We did our annual big family gathering, but all of the people and noise overwhelmed her. And our family was still adjusting; we were learning to be a family of five, surrounded by lots of people, at one of the busiest, most chaotic times of year.

I remember that sometimes I’d pause and think, “This is hard.” And it was. But it was also beautiful. 

Sophie loved all of the food and the presents. She especially loved the crinkly wrapping paper and tree decked with ornaments. She’d never seen twinkling lights, and when we lit up the tree, Sophie’s eyes grew wide with wonder. At only two years old, she didn’t say any words yet, but she mimicked her older brothers and their excitement. I found my holiday-induced stress would melt when I saw her smile as she encountered something new. Sophie’s enthusiasm was contagious.

In all of the Christmases since, I’ve never forgotten that “first Christmas” together. As I look back, it’s not details of the holiday that I remember, but the love. Sophie’s enthusiastic love for all that the celebration entailed. The extended family’s welcoming love for our new little girl. Our overwhelming love for this precious little person who was changing our lives, and our family forever.

Whatever your Christmas holiday brings, I wish you that same measure of love … enthusiastic, welcoming, overwhelming, unconditional love. Merry Christmas from our family here at Agape Adoptions, to yours!

Agape Adoptions’ Executive Director, Myriam Avery, welcomed home her daughter, Sophie, from China in 2006.

A Picture That’s Worth a Lifetime

It’s hard to believe that my week in Eastern Europe is more than half over already! This has been a busy trip with lots of “housekeeping” work to do as I talk to my colleagues and process important government paperwork that makes all of the work here possible. One of the highlights of this trip has been the opportunity to meet Rory, the young man who is photographer and videographer for the children we work to place in families.

Rory is an enthusiastic man with a good eye for pictures and a warm heart for the children he helps. We sat together and talked, and I could see his eyes brighten as he’d share anecdotes about the children – things that a still photograph can never capture. He smiled as he said, “I love love love to go and visit the kids. I am honored to be a small part of their journey.”

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Rory’s pictures and videos have provided many children with a life-changing link to waiting families thousands of miles away. His work is perhaps the single most important piece of information a family can get as they wait to welcome a child into their home. Big dark eyes smiling for a camera. A giggle caught on video. A hopeful glance into the lens that will somehow connect them with their forever family.

On this trip, I visited with a family who is preparing to head home with two new little girls. Those little girls probably don’t realize what an important part Rory has played in their story. After all, he’s just an adult taking pictures. But Rory’s participation in their journey – and in the journeys of the other children who still await adoption – is making a world of difference. For these waiting children, a picture isn’t just worth a thousand words. It’s worth a lifetime.

Note: If you are interested in learning more about the little boy pictured, or other waiting children, please contact us at 253-987-5804 for more information. We have pictures and videos to share with you!