When I look back at 2012, there are many things that stick out sharply in my mind. Here are some of them in no particular order:
*My wife: This past October marked our first full year of marriage. I couldn't be happier. I couldn't have found a better match for me. I couldn't have asked for a better partner to travel through this life with. I am so thankful for her, who she is, and all that she gives to me. Thank you, Carla, for being the most wonderful wife, the most fun partner in crime, my strongest support, and my perfectly matched Scrabble partner. I cannot wait to be a mom with you. You have so much love to give to our child and I cannot wait until the day that I get to see you holding our baby.
*My dad's health: After a really scary year, my dad is incredibly healthy and happy once again. I have been so inspired by his strength through his illness and continue to be inspired by his courage through his recovery. I have never felt closer to my dad and am so thankful that he is healthy once again. I can only hope to be half as good as a parent as he has been to me. He has taught me so much and made me feel so confident in this world. I am so very proud to have him as my dad.
*Family: I have never needed support from my family in the way that I have needed support from them during this past year and throughout this adoption process. I can't believe the way that they have been there for me. I have fallen apart to various members of my family at various times throughout this past year and they have caught me in such incredible ways. I am lucky to have a mother who loves me for every single thing that I am and who will put her own problems away to help me deal with my own. I am lucky to have a sister who cares so deeply about me that she cries when I cry and offers the kind of support that truly reminds me that things are going to be okay. I am also incredibly lucky to have forged strong relationships with members of my extended family. My sister's husband and my wife's family have all shown me that family is not defined purely by blood. They have all been incredible through this process so far and I feel incredibly lucky to have a family that now extends far beyond the one that I grew up with.
*My nephew: He is just the funniest, smartest little guy and his laughter and joy have brought me out of the deepest kinds of sadness this year.
*Friends: Sometimes it hard for me to know where family ends and friends begin. I have never been one to have loads and loads of friends, but I have always been one to have a few of the most amazing friends that anyone could ever ask for. Some are from junior high school, some from high school, some from college, and some are from work. I have been blown away by their support this year. From friends who have quietly worried when they didn't hear from me, to friends who stopped by with wine and ice cream because they knew it was exactly what I needed. I am so lucky to have these people in my life.
*My students: They will never know what they have done for me this past year. 2012 gave me two incredible groups of students. There were days when this adoption process brought me to some of the lowest places I have ever been to, but somehow walking into a room filled with these kids always helped. I am thankful to get to learn from kids like these every day. Throughout this year, I have been inspired by and in awe of the children that I have the privilege of teaching. Waiting for our child, is made significantly easier by having all of these other children in my life to love.
*Death: I have had to say goodbye to very loved members of my family this year. Their absence is felt so very much, but their presence is equally felt. I am thankful for all that they were able to give me throughout their very full lives and I am thankful that they were able to live the end of their lives with dignity and peace.
*The struggles: Adoption is not an easy process. They told me that at the beginning, but only now am I beginning to understand it. I know there are a lot more struggles ahead for us along this road to adoption, but I have to say that I am thankful for the struggles that we have already encountered. Each time we overcame a hurdle, I grew a little bit more. I became a little bit stronger. I developed a true sense of faith in the person that I am, the couple that we are, and the process that we are involved in. Leaning into the pain that this adoption process has brought has allowed me to develop things within myself that I never knew were there. I feel better prepared now to face whatever comes. I feel better able to seek out and accept the support that I will need moving forward through this process.
*This blog: This blog is now over a year old. When I started writing, I had no way of knowing the importance that this space would have. I am so thankful for what this blog has given me. It has given me a place to vent, a place to put the things that are too heavy to continue carrying around, a place to help people understand what is going on throughout this adoption process, a place to seek support, a place to receive support, a place to offer support, a place to seek validation, and a place to sort things out that are too confusing to sort through while they swirl around in my mind.
So while it has been a challenge, 2012 has brought me a lot of blessings. Some of them I recognized at the moment they entered my life and some of those blessings I have not been able to understand until much later. But as I end this year, I feel an incredible sense of gratitude and an incredible sense of hopefulness. Carla and I have said many times this month that we believe 2013 is going to be OUR year. We are not sure exactly what that means, but as we look ahead into this new year we see good things in our future and we know that we will be ready to accept them whenever and however they choose to arrive.
Happy New Year everyone. May it be filled with all sorts of things!