As I sit waiting for my duck to defrost so I can attempt Beijing Roasted Duck, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on the joys of our year with Hannah.

I try to remember the heightened sense of anticipation we felt a year ago as we boarded the bus which would take us to meet Hannah for the first time. We packed our bag with diapers and wipes and toys and food and who knows what else. We didn’t know what to expect, so we tried to prepare for anything. At the last minute I remember experiencing a wave of fear – or was it concern – realizing perhaps for the first time that everything was about to change and we didn’t have any idea what was going to happen.

hannah-day-048.jpgI wonder what Hannah’s day was like and what she thought. Knowing her now I have to believe that she was quiet but observant, ever aware of the changes that were going on around her but always looking and learning. Maybe she too experienced a wave of fear when her caretakers handed her off to these new people who, despite their obvious good looks, were very different from her in sight, sound and smell. Hopefully that fear, if present at all, was alleviated when she was first held by her expectant big sister.

pc080092.jpgLet me pause to brag on that big sister for a minute, because I don’t want to forget that this year has been an adjustment for her as well. While there have been some bumps in the road, Jaycie has shown herself to be a wonderful sister. She does a great job of playing with Hannah, teaching her new things, making her laugh when she is sad, and making her squeal when she is happy. From the very beginning of their relationship Jaycie has loved Hannah deeply, and that is such a blessing. I love nothing more than seeing Hannah follow Jaycie through the house and imitating her every move.

In the last year we have changed. Things that were new and different are now familiar and comfortable. Surprise and wonder have been replaced with joy and, well, wonder. Not the wonder about what was, but the wonder that accompanies the awareness that your life is rich beyond anything you thought possible. We take joy in the little things – the way she runs to us when she needs to be comforted, knowing what she wants, or anticipating her move to grab a hot cup of coffee or cold cup or water just in time. We relish in the ways in which she is like us, and the ways in which we are like her.

Last year at this time we were incomplete because a member of our family wasn’t with us yet, but this year we take a moment out of our busy holiday to give thanks for the unity of our family. We are also thankful for the new family we have in those with whom we travelled last Christmas and the bond we will always share. We are thankful for who we were, who we are and who we are becoming.  So, without further ado, I wish you a Happy Gotcha’ Day and a very Merry Christmas. Stay tuned to see how the duck turns out.