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A Forever Family Thanksgiving Memory

I can remember the crunch of fallen leaves-ruffled by sneakers that were torn at the heel and too tight on the toe. The black Converse shoes, tattooed with eighth-grade art in permanent marker, were in stark contrast to the rainbow of colors around them. My feet barely left the ground, scattering dust from the leaves along the pavement. A trail of dread and uncertainty. That middle autumn morning had been a challenge, even to just wake up. It was our first Thanksgiving in foster care, removed from familiar surroundings and people.

All six of us girls from the group home boarded our over-sized van with two counselors, both annoyed that they were working on Thanksgiving Day. My twin sister, Amanda, and I shared anxious glances, passing through the nearly empty city in silence. When the van finally pulled into the Golden Corral parking lot, we understood that our Thanksgiving meal would be one that impressed corporate and saved money.

We were the lucky ones. At least we had each other.

Several more autumns passed with new and confusing Thanksgivings. A numbness had fallen over the festivities because, frankly, we didn’t often have anything to celebrate. We had lost our sense of anticipation and excitement for the holidays to the exhaustion of wondering whether or not we would have a warm, home-cooked meal that year.

Thankfully for us, those dreary Thanksgivings have now been replaced by new tradition and warmth. Autumn leaves and the crisp air of fall now remind us of the coming holiday and new memories.

This year, our forever family will be celebrating five years of these new Thanksgiving traditions. Wednesday night, we celebrate with seafood to depart from the classic turkey dinner. However, we do eat turkey on Thursday with both grandmothers and now our extended families. Our evening will also conclude with our once-a-year family movie outing. This year, I hope we get to see the new Harry Potter film.

These two full days of thanksgiving celebration now mean so much more. We don’t only celebrate each other, but all of those who love us unconditionally.

With November as National Adoption Awareness Month, it is important to note that there are more than 5,000 children in foster care in Virginia. Most whom probably are not excited for this upcoming Thanksgiving.

This year, take the next step to learn about how you can help make a child’s holidays spectacular by being a champion foster parent.

Andrea Miller is a foster parent recruiter for UMFS in the Southwest region, and often shares her experiences growing up in foster care to bring awareness to the ongoing need for parents like those who adopted her and her sister.

Below are images from our 5th annual seafood dinner. Top: Andrea, Thomas, Amanda Bottom: parents Jim and Tammy.

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