About ten years ago, my husband Rich took a trip to help at an orphanage in Haiti. I was in my second year attending Portland Community College for Architectural classes, working part-time at CPM, and raising a six and a three-year-old. Life was full.
The next year, we welcomed two teenagers from Haiti (one whom Rich had just met during his trip to Haiti) into our hearts and home. They lived with us for three years and then, after much tumult, ended up moving out of our home. As life offers, and though painful, I am thankful for that situation. We learned about international adoption, Haitian culture, got a crash course on teenagers (we are now there again with our birth kids!), custody issues, living with serious medical issues, and the immigration process. Things we would have never had experience with otherwise, in which we now are well educated.
One of the most striking memories I have during that time was during one of the three extended stays our adopted daughter had at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. Our lives were molded around having one of us parents sleep, eat, and be at the hospital while the other managed working and the three kids at home. I retreated to the chapel to find some Peace, Hope, to whatever I could hold on and found journals filled with heart songs and gut-wrenching realities. Because our daughter had a blood disorder (sickle cell anemia), we were on the same floor as those with leukemia and other potentially-fatal conditions. But our daughter would live as long as her crises did not occur within certain parts of the body; some writers were seeing the end with their offspring. However hard it was for us, we could be thankful for life.
There is a saying that someone always has it harder than you. Holding onto that knowledge can produce thankfulness in our hearts if we let it.
My birth kids went through a lot during those years, came out with a lot of understanding for others, and have seen us persevere. They have seen us work, study, and play hard. The lessons we have learned are something for which to be thankful.
As CPM ends the year, we are thankful for each of you and hope that you find your own reason to give thanks: family, friends, life. Let us celebrate the season with joy together.
Owner, Chehalem Property Management