Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"You can make it, but it's easier if you don't have to do it alone."

~Betty Ford~

 [2012 group photo of (most) of the children in our group]

Sometime in the summer of 2007, we traveled across the state for a picnic. The head of our adoption agency was going to be in town and a few families were getting together.  At that point, we had recently sent our dossier off to Ethiopia and were waiting to bring Abi home! (We didn't even have plans to adopt Hana yet!)  Anyway, that picnic was not only a lot of fun, but it was a wonderful opportunity for us to meet with a few families who already had children home from Ethiopia, and to begin learning from them.

Fast forward to January 2008. We and a few other families agreed it would be great to keep getting adoptive families together!  We also thought camping would be fun.  So, we started planning and made reservations.  Then, in June 2008 - a few months after Abi and Hana had come home - we had our first camping event.  There were about 8 or 9 families that camped and about 10 (?) others that joined us for a potluck lunch that Saturday.  We had so much fun we decided to make it an annual event!

[I've blogged about our first camping event briefly here: 2008]

Our numbers grew in 2009, 2010, 2011... 

This past weekend was our fifth annual Michigan Ethio-Adopt Camping Weekend.  There were at least 40 families who camped (quite possibly over 50 - it gets difficult to keep track!).  We have officially taken over one major loop of the campground, and large portions of other loops.  In the past 4 years, we've been able to grow together as families. We've watched chubby-cheeked babies grow into stumbling toddlers and active preschoolers. We've seen other children mature, their language skills developing rapidly. We've seen many more children join our numbers - biological and adopted, Ethiopia and elsewhere.  Our children have made great friends - hopefully, life-long friends. 

It's a weekend when children of all colors and ages mix and mingle and scamper off - chalk drawings on the cement near the bathrooms, catching tadpoles in the creek, soccer games in the activity field, bikes and scooters around and around... 

As a family, we look forward to this weekend every year. The kids have a blast with their friends, as do we.  Perhaps more importantly, it's a chance for all of us to feel *normal.*  To be around other families that look just like us - whether they have one adopted child, or 5 - we're all a mix of colors and cultures and all dealing with the special challenges adoption provides. 

I'm so thankful to have this community and cannot express how valuable it is for me as a parent and - I hope - for my children, biological and adopted.

 Catching tadpoles!

Bossy chalk drawings after a rain shower :)
Looking cute at the beach with a buddy

Beach fun with friends!

 Sweet sister smiles

Football with Hana and Dad.

Buried in the sand with a friend

Relaxing and grilling at the campsite

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